The Stigma of Mental Health Illness
Individuals who suffer from mental health problems voice their concerns on the social stigma connected to their condition, as well as the discriminatory experiences they undergo making their difficulties even worse and harder to recover. Stigma shows a mark of particular disgrace with a specific circumstance, person, quality, or condition. It expresses a form of shame, ignominy, humiliation, and dishonor at the expense of the victim. Mental illness on the other hand indicates a disease that causes disturbances in thought, ranging from mild to severe, as well as behavior. The victim is thus unable to cope with the ordinary demands in life and obvious routines and abilities. There are over two hundred classified forms of mental illnesses and disorders. They range from personalities, moods, social withdrawals, and personal habits. In the world all over, cases of mental health, illnesses are common and widespread. Different communities and cultures have varied forms of dealing with the opposition towards the victim circumstances, with acceptance and rejection in equal measure. Victims of mental health illnesses suffer from stigma, while offenders point to societal rejection increasing the need to eradicate the mark of disgrace.
There are different causes to mental health illnesses experienced in humans. They can be physical, emotional, or psychological. The first instance shows that mental illnesses can be hereditary from a family setup. Blood relatives that have mental illnesses increase the certainty of genes in developing the conditions to younger offspring. Secondly, the environmental exposures at birth can contribute to development of some of the conditions. For example, toxins, drugs, alcohol, and infiltration can lead to development of the mental health condition. The third condition is the brain chemistry. In the transmission of signals from one part of the brain to the body, neurotransmitters are responsible for the functionality (West 9). Any form of impairment in the neurotransmitters is capable of causing the mental illness or certain condition. Additional causes point to stress and emotional breakdown due to aggregate factors in the surrounding. In addition, psychological deprivation also increases the chances.
Warning Signs and Symptoms
Individuals with mental illnesses usually exhibit cluster of various symptoms, which can be persistent, or life therefore interfering with everyday routines, work and life. In the adults, confused thinking, prolonged depression, feelings of extreme lows and highs are all pointers. In addition, delusion and hallucinations, suicidal thoughts and tendencies, and the growth in inability to cope with daily activities and problems that are obvious, all indicate mental health struggles (Davey 16). In the pre-adolescents, changes in sleeping habits, excessive complaints, intensive fear of gaining weight, and frequent outbursts of anger also indicate the mental health illnesses. In the younger children, changes in performance of education, hyperactivity, persistent nightmares that were never there before, frequent tantrums and tempers, as well as excessive anxiety are all alluded to issues surrounding mental health illnesses. However, all the above may vary from one individual to another, and might not be factual of the disorders.
Treatment of mental health illnesses depends on the early prognosis of the conditions and tests done to the victims at the earliest stage before manifestation. Various medications can be used in the treatment of the conditions. Antidepressants are the most common forms of treatment drugs used in helping with depression and anxiety. They help in facilitating better moods, lack of energy, and the difficulty in concentration. Anti-anxiety medications are also used in panic disorders as well as anxiety-related conditions in the victims (Ruggiero 13). Mood stabilizers reflect on the need for arresting any bipolar tendencies as well alternations to insomnia and sleep deprivations. Antipsychotic medications are relevant for the mental disorders of schizophrenia and bipolar complications in order for the leveling of depression. They are also instrumental in calming down the nerves of the victims of mental illnesses due to their catalyst compositions.
Psychotherapy has been used in helping alleviate the conditions experienced by the victims of mental health illnesses. Different methods with distinct approaches are used in ensuring that establishment of moods, conditions, complications, and victim responses through talking are obtained. The length and duration of the sessions in the process are determined by the medial practitioners according to the extent of them as well as the response and recovery exhibited by the victims. Other forms of treatment include the brain stimulation especially for those with depression disorders. They inculcate electroconvulsive therapy and the transcranial stimulation through magnetic machinery. Hubbard (17) argues that the function is to enable the brain’s response according to simulation of the vagus nerve. The risks and benefits of the procedure are explained to the patients and family members before the procedure is carried out, as it is a delicate and expensive one.
From the indicators and relevant studies, it is stated that one in every four individuals experiences a mental health problem or disorder at some point in their lives (Mental Health Association 1). In the children category, one in every ten can claim to have experienced mental health problems at different stages of their growth and development. One of the major causes of mental health, depression, affects one in every twelve persons in the whole population given the quadrant basing. According to Mental Health Foundation (1), in the United Kingdom for example, the rates of self-harm are highest within Europe. The figures account for almost four hundred in every a hundred thousand. In the worldwide stature, about four hundred and fifty million people suffer from mental health problems. In the United States alone, over sixty million people can be attributed to the same, on an annual basis.
There are several myths associated with mental health illnesses, and are varied from one culture, community, ethnic background top another. One of the common myths is that the condition only affects a select few people. Instead, the condition is prevalent in any part of the world, despite the educational level, gender, income generation, age, culture, or lifestyle basis. The second myth is that mental illnesses are caused by personal weaknesses or flaws (Harpine 16). It should be categorical to everyone that the condition is caused by biological, genetic, environmental, and social factors around all humans. The third myth is that individuals who have mental health issues and disorders never get better. The fact of the matter is that with the appropriate method and timing of treatment, majority of the victim can lead a normal live, healthy, with satisfaction, just as the normal people do.
Social stigmatization is common especially towards people who exhibit any of the mental health illnesses, disorders, and concerns at any stage of their lives, growth, and development. Indeed, individuals with such complications are able to acquire a normal life, with satisfaction and abilities just as the normal people do, if only they get the appropriate treatment at the earliest stage possible. Despite the huge statistics and numbers provided for the affected persons in the societies, increased incidences of stigmatization are rampant, based on the held myths, common thoughts about their inabilities or condition, as well as cultural influences. Bharadwaj, Pai, and Suzidelyte (14) note that with the stigmatization, incidences of discrimination creep up based on the findings of the disorders and conditions of the mental health illnesses. The different aspects and experiences of the victims lead to increased chances of slower recovery or none at all in terms of progression.
Majority of the stigmatization incidents carried out from external sources, depending on the circumstances. For example, society members have varied beliefs about the victims of mental health illnesses, and therefore their treatment in the open is not ideal. Instances where the victims are mocked, shunned away, repulsed, rejected, or even avoided are a common sight to hold in the world all over. The discriminatory expletives and deliveries from the normal people are all contributors to the extent and growth of the practice amongst different cultures (Chase 22). According to the incidence rates provided from statistical analysis and carried out samplings, nine out of the ten victims who have undergone the discrimination allude to stigmatization, as the contributing factor towards the negative effects in their lives. In addition, the emotional, psychological, and physical experiences scar them for life without any help.
Some of the common struggles experienced by the victims of stigmatization affect their overall placing within the society. In the first instance, they find it hard to get employment or any reliable source of income generation due to their conditions. The normal people discriminate against them citing lack of ability and capability to execute their required roles. In matters of their personal lives, they find it difficult to get into relationships, maintain them, and enable a long-term basis in their lives with the appropriate partners (West 9). Majority of the stigmatization discourages them from attempting any advances and expression of their interests in relationships circle. Other areas that are common degradation points to the victims of mental health illnesses include housing demands and mainstream society. Housing becomes a challenge for the victims since they cannot manage to achieve the common tasks with ease.
The problem of stigmatization is complicated and made worse by victims of mental health illnesses who experience it from their family members. The family represents the basic unit of every society, and its formative elements determine the extent of the child’s growth and development in the external surrounding. In the family setup, support offered to the members who have mental health illnesses is crucial in their ability to face the external world, as well as improve their condition whiles seeking professional and medical help to alleviate the condition. In this instance, integration into the society becomes easier and acceptable. Davey (13) argues that families that stigmatize their own from a tender period increase the chances of societal rejection. The mirroring effect created from familiar surrounding is resounding proof of the discrimination experience at the external confines. The inclusion of distant and closer relatives affects the self-esteem of the victims and general ability to confront the stigmatization effects within the society.
Stigma on the part of the mental health illness victims causes different experiences and feelings. It brings about the feeling of shame, especially when the conditions rid one of the ability to execute the normal and simple functionalities and activities within the home or society. The victims began to blame themselves depending on their circumstances faced or experiences met at the initial stages. Once the experiences and feelings increase at every developmental stage, hopelessness is sure to creep in, at different times of the individual’s life. Chase (23) observes that the occurrences of distress become often and very intense especially when short durations are witnessed. Due to the burden and feeling of guilt, the victims are prone to encounter reluctance of acceptance to the situation and conditions. In addition, they shy away from ay opportunity of seeking either medical or professional help. Another factor of misrepresentation in the policy-making bodies and impact within the media, all contribute to the extended stigmatization in the society.
The impact of stigmatization in the society is amplified by the misrepresentation of the problems and policies. For example, the portrayal n the media of the victims of mental health illnesses is not affirmative. On a given incidence rate, very few or countable number of times are the issues and conditions facing the victims highlighted to the society (Hubbard 17). The very few mentions are characterized by diminutive detailing and low advice towards the other members of the society on ways of helping the victims, increasing chances of treatment of the conditions, and implementations of ways to reduce stigmatization. In terms of misrepresentation, very few governmental institutions and policies are administered with capacities to fight for the rights of the victims.
Opposition towards the established means of stigmatization of the mental health illness victims has been an ongoing debate throughout human history. In the social stigma, offenders of the stigmatization process allude to the prejudices based on attitude of the discriminating behaviors. In this regard, due to the passed down stereotypes concerning the victims, few of the members of society are willing to eliminate the stigmatization process. For example, in the rational settings of the Asians and Africans, any mental health illness victim was considered bad omen to the community or a sign of a curse, depending on the ethnicity (Bharadwaj, Pai, and Suzidelyte 14). In addition, several steps were taken into eliminating the individual from the society at all means. This was a cruel and inhuman act to the people, as it was not their fault at all. Today, with increased civilization, technological advancements, and breakthroughs in the medical fields, the continued practice of stigmatization should be abolished.
In the second perceived stigma category, the discrimination is based on internalization of different perceptions of the victims into discriminating against them. For example, the social myths and prejudices against the victims of such conditions allude to their incapacitation towards various normal life functions. Other members of the society hold onto the common belief that such victims are incapable of executing responsibilities, thinking, and living like other normal individuals. With this prejudice, the stigmatization is witnessed in the manner of treatment, discrimination from employment opportunities, rejection and is therefore discarded from other members of society. Science has proven that apart from incapacitation, mental health illnesses victims can achieve basic functionalities just as normal people with the rightful treatment and help. Consequently, with the advent of better technologies, equipment and medical transformation, discrimination should not be condoned, as the victims can get appropriate help in time to be incorporated into the society.
The third category of stigmatization in the society is due to the fear held about the victims of mental health illnesses. Throughout history, victims of mental health illnesses have been treated differently, even to the extent of being brutalized. Hibbard (16) notes that majority of the society members view the victims as being unpredictable and violent in nature. The misguided view is responsible for the initial reception that the victims receive, especially in any circumstance of misunderstanding. The first reaction from the normal people is to get physical with the victims in order to contain them or ensure that they do not get closer. Other beliefs commonly held against the people include possession of demonic attributes or closer association with evil dimensions. The generated fear and caution increases the instances of discrimination towards the victims, without there blame at all. However, dispelling of the myths and falsehood beliefs is important in reducing the brutal nature of their treatment.
Coping with Stigma
Mental health illness victims can deal with stigma in different ways. The victims should learn not to isolate themselves. The victims should learn that keeping quite about the situation or condition without seeking help from their closest family members raises the chances of the indifferent feeling and succumbing to depression (Corbiere, Samson, and Villoti 12). Another strategy includes overcoming the mental aspect of equating oneself to the illness. Rather than calling oneself according to the condition, experts say that acceptance is easier and a better way of dealing with the issue as opposed to held fear of the unknown concerning the illness.
Victims of the conditions are also advised on joining different self-help groups as well as support ones. Different institutions within the funding of governmental and non-governmental organizations offer programs aimed at helping such individuals. Internet resources aimed at educating the society on the different conditions affecting the victims and their conditions facilitate similar programs that the victims can take advantage of and seek help. According to Corbiere, Samson and Villoti (9) increased membership of such groups also helps champion for policy-making steps towards their recognition and advocated protection. Individually, the victims should not be involved in thoughts of self-shaming and doubt.
Lastly, the victims should seek immediate treatment and tests once the conditions start manifesting in their normal lives. As stated in the treatment procedures, victims of the illnesses have every chance of attaining a normal life after adequate treatment is administered at the earliest stage possible. Therefore, regular checks and tests should help the victims on the path to recovery and avoid further stigmatization (Ruggiero 13). They are also advised to speak against stigmatization in the society in order to break down the stereotypes and prejudice. It will also help in encouraging better cooperation standards with other members of the society once the myths and falsifications about them are discussed and exposed.
Victims of mental health illnesses suffer from stigma, while offenders point to societal rejection increasing the need to eradicate the mark of disgrace. There s a widespread culture of stigmatization of the victims due to social attitudes, internalization of prejudice and feared attributes by the society. The different conditions of the illnesses can be treated if realized at earlier stages, and the victims return to normalcy. More efforts should be placed on the federal representation concerns of the victims, as well strict measures to ensure discrimination and stigmatization is curbed.
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