The stigma surrounding mental health often leads young people to shy away from seeking the help and support they need, leaving them to face discrimination and exclusion. Mental health conditions can have a significant impact on young people’s development and integration into society and the world of work

mental health

Yes, There Is Stigma Related to Mental Health

Stigma, as it relates to mental health, is when people who experience mental illness are viewed or view themselves in a negative light.

Mental health stigma can either be public stigma, self-stigma, or a combination of the two.

Public stigma includes stereotypes and discrimination held by the general population. A person can adopt public stigma and hold negative beliefs even before developing a mental illness.

Stereotypes include beliefs that people are responsible for their mental health issues or that those with mental illness are more likely to be dangerous.

Common forms of discrimination include denying someone housing or turning down someone for a job based on their mental health.

Self-stigma happens when someone with mental illness applies negative public views to themselves. They observe others’ negative attitudes. Often, they believe they are unworthy or should be able to control their symptoms through willpower.

When someone takes on beliefs like these, it’s easy for them to feel isolated, misunderstood, or that they’re the underdog. They may hesitate to apply for housing, get medical care, and participate in community activities.

Mental health is strongest taboo, says research

People are more reluctant to reveal they have a mental illness than to come out as gay, according to a new study that reaffirms warnings from campaigners that mental illness still faces a persistent social taboo.

In a survey of 2,000 people across Britain, almost 30% said they would find it difficult to admit publicly to having a mental illness, compared with 20% who said they would have difficulty coming out as gay.

Commissioned by the Time to Change campaign, an umbrella group of charities and the Institute of Psychiatry with a remit to challenge stigma, the survey also found that admitting to a mental health condition was deemed harder than confessing to having a drink problem or going bankrupt.

Almost a third of respondents believed someone with a mental health problem couldn’t do a responsible job.

“Perhaps it’s no surprise that a separate study found fewer than four in 10 employers would feel able to employ someone with a mental health problem,” the study’s authors say.

“The figures paint a bleak picture that reflects a Britain where mental health problems can stop you getting a job, having social interaction and getting on with life because they are so stigmatized.”

The Facts on Stigma, Prejudice and Discrimination

Stigma often comes from lack of understanding or fear. Inaccurate or misleading media representations of mental illness contribute to both those factors. A review of studies on stigma shows that while the public may accept the medical or genetic nature of a mental health disorder and the need for treatment, many people still have a negative view of those with mental illness.

Researchers identify different types of stigma:

  • Public stigma involves the negative or discriminatory attitudes that others have about mental illness.
  • Self-stigma refers to the negative attitudes, including internalized shame, that people with mental illness have about their own condition.
  • Institutional stigma, is more systemic, involving policies of government and private organizations that intentionally or unintentionally limit opportunities for people with mental illness. Examples include lower funding for mental illness research or fewer mental health services relative to other health care.

Stigma not only directly affects individuals with mental illness but also the loved ones who support them, often including their family members.

Stigma around mental illness especially an issue in some diverse racial and ethnic communities and it can be a major barrier to people from those cultures accessing mental health services. For example, in some Asian cultures, seeking professional help for mental illness may be counter to cultural values of strong family, emotional restraint and avoiding shame. Among some groups, including the African American community’s, distrust of the mental healthcare system can also be a barrier to seeking help.

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