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What defines a negative mental health stigma? Is it the person who has the mental illness or is it the society surrounding that person? In most cases, this unnecessary stigma comes from the society that surrounds a person with a mental illness. Society often stereotypes or generalizes mental illness in a way that harms others. Since it is so generalized in society today, not many people are talking about how this stigma affects those who struggle with their mental health every day. As a result, “people with mental illnesses are robbed of so many opportunities that define a quality life: good jobs, safe housing, satisfactory health care, and a new affiliation with a diverse group of people” (Corrigan). People may not think about how severely the negativity in society is affecting a person’s life. Because people dealing with a mental illness are so stereotyped, they aren’t able to live up to their full potential. A mental illness is not something that should weigh someone down in life, rather it should teach them to rise up above the struggles. However, society makes it extremely difficult for this to happen.
People with mental illnesses are robbed of so many opportunities that define a quality life: good jobs, safe housing, satisfactory health care, and a new affiliation with a diverse group of people.
Patrick W Corrigan and Amy C. Watson. “Understanding the Impact of Stigma on People with Mental Illness.”
The negative stigmas of mental illness have been spreading for years now. People do not realize this fact because it has become almost normal for people to say “I have anxiety” or “I am depressed”. When someone is really struggling with depression or anxiety, it is looked upon as something normal because it is talked about so often. The reality of this situation is that people who are struggling with these mental illnesses are feeling invisible and that they do not matter as much because society sees their illness as “normal”. This may lead to them not getting the help they need because they do not want to be seen as “dramatic” or “sensitive”. Mental illness affects all people around the world no matter what race or gender they are. Especially in society today, “prejudice, which is fundamentally a cognitive response, leads to discrimination, the behavioral reaction” (Corrigan). In this specific case, people with mental illnesses are being discriminated against. Even if someone initially thinks a person is “not normal”, they do not always have to act on those thoughts. However, the action is what leads to public discrimination. Until people start talking more about this problem in society, it will not get any better. It might, however, get worse.
Self-stigma leads to negative effects on recovery among people diagnosed with severe mental illnesses
“Stigma and Discrimination.” Psychiatry.org, American Psychiatric Association
We should care about the negative stigmas surrounding mental health because it is a problem in society that is not talked about very often. The public stigma that affects people with a mental illness can often lead to self-stigma, which is when people struggling with mental illnesses turn against themselves (Corrigan). Self-stigma can cause people with mental illnesses to have body image issues as well as develop more mental illnesses that they didn’t have to begin with. This stigma not only can affect those with mental illness, but also the loved ones who support them (“Stigma and Discrimination”). The emotional struggles that come with a mental illness is often more than that person can handle at once. Support from family and friends is the best thing a person can receive when struggling with a mental illness. Nobody really thinks about the emotional hardships a family endures when someone they love is being discriminated against. This is why society needs to address this issue. Because these stereotypes are put in place, people don’t realize how much they are negatively affecting a person’s mental illness and because it is mental, it is not something that is physically noticeable about a person. Addressing this issue could help so many people and create a better, safer environment for them as well.
Corrigan, Patrick W., and Amy C. Watson. “Understanding the Impact of Stigma on People with Mental Illness.” World Psychiatry : Official Journal of the World Psychiatric Association (WPA), Masson Italy, Feb. 2002, www.ncbi.nlm.nihgov/pmc/articles/PMC1489832/.
“Stigma and Discrimination.” Psychiatry.org, American Psychiatric Association, Aug. 2020, www.psychiatry.org/patients-families/stigma-and-discrimination.