How to break the negative stigma behind mental disorders
Historically, there has been a negative stigma behind mental disorders. For some reason, our society is accepting of any other body parts diseasing except the brain. Insurance is more likely to cover any vital organ other than your brain. Sure, they will pay if you get a tumor, but if you are depressed or socially anxious, sometimes you’re on your own.
The public perception can be very harmful to those who suffer from mental disorders because it diminishes self-esteem and can keep people from getting treatment. In fact, a recent study has suggested that up to 26% of adults do not seek treatment because of the negative perception of mental disorders. Stigma also robs people of social opportunities, like employment or housing, because of their mental disorder. The stigma even affects the friends and family of someone with a mental disorder.
How to break the negative stigma behind mental disorders: Can individuals do anything?
The Journal of Health and Social Behavior conducted a study, examining whether or not individuals could break or at least decrease the negative stigma behind mental disorders simply by adopting a few coping mechanisms. Study participants were asked to keep their history of treatment a secret, educate others about their disorder, and avoid situations where rejection might occur. The study did not have positive results. They reported that the social stigma was too powerful for any individual effort to break the negative stigma behind mental disorders. None of the coping mechanisms were effective in diminishing negative labeling effects or psychological distress. To truly break the negative the negative stigma behind mental disorders, they concluded, we need a social solution, not an individual one.
How to break the negative stigma behind mental disorders: Education.
Education has been shown to be effective in breaking the negative stigma behind mental disorders. As people become more aware of mental disorders, the social stigma decreased. This is very important, as often the shame of having a mental disorder is more harmful than the disorder itself! Mental illness, despite centuries of learning, is still seen as a weakness. To change the public perception, we need to educate people about mental illness.
How to break the negative stigma behind mental disorders: Discredit negative stereotypes.
Although most employers shy away from hiring people with mental disorders, many studies have shown that most employers that have hired people with mental illness have had a positive to very positive experience. This shows that people with mental disorders are capable of doing their jobs well. Further, up to 90 percent of people with a mental illness who seek professional help experience a considerable reduction in their symptoms. If more employers hired people with a history of mental illness and provided healthcare for those with a mental disorder, we could make a big difference in the lives of people with these disorders. Perhaps we should treat discrimination against people with mental disorders the same way that we treat discrimination against people with physical handicaps.
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