Mental Health: Stigma or Controversy

Mental Health: Stigma or Controversy

Mental health refers to the health of someone functioning at a satisfactory level of emotional well-being and behavioural judgement. It takes into account three factors essentially: cognitive, emotional and behavioural. Let's talk about Mental Health: Stigma or Controversy?

According to the WHO (World Health Organization), mental health is:
“… a state of well-being in which the individual realizes his or her own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to his or her community.”

Everyone has the potential to develop mental health problems, irrespective of any criteria which you can think of. Almost 18.5 per cent of the world's population has mental health disorders or experiences such disorders.

The most common type of illnesses is anxiety disorders, mood disorders and schizophrenia. Anxiety disorders could be phobias, panic disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder(OCD), or post-traumatic stress disorder(PTSD).

The treatment of mental illness has been on hold because the disorders of emotion, thinking and behaviour reflect individual weakness or poor life choices. There has been a mismatch between the impact of mental illness and addiction on public health. Our society has also offered a limited commitment to solving these problems.

Most emergency departments are not equipped to meet the needs of a patient of mental illness or mental crises. The insurance companies are discarding these problems from their plans as exceptions to standard health care. In most of the cases, people suffering from severe mental illness are isolated and taken care of as in the asylums, where health care is far different from traditional health care.

Mental Health: Stigma or Controversy? Psychiatry has been questioned again and again. Psychiatric treatments have been recognized or perceived as something mysterious. Some people undergoing diagnosis also claim their reactions or behaviours to be reasonable as they are going through difficult life experiences. So it is upsetting to label it as a disorder. These people want professionals to help them out with what had caused or contributed to such difficulties instead of focussing it as an individual problem.

While some people find the diagnosis to be helpful in understanding their experiences. They think of it as a natural reaction, and learn to drop the personality disorder label.
Hence, it is tough for psychiatrists and professionals to identify what mental illness is if the symptoms are temporary or too weak for any such recognition. This is where society needs to come in and support to mitigate such problems.

Mental Health: Stigma or Controversy?

False beliefs about mental health are capable enough to inflict significant problems to you.
When people view you in a discriminatory way because you have a distinguishing characteristic or a trait which is thought to be or actually is a disadvantage, stigma comes into the room. Hence, negative attitudes and beliefs come up. You could be discriminated in a number of ways: a negative remark, an unintentional or subtle avoidance because the person judges you to be unstable or mentally ill. Things get aggravated to such conditions that even you begin to judge yourself.

Stigma can affect you in various ways. Your behaviour and attitude reflect it.

  • Avoid seeking help or treatment.
  • Start believing that you would never be able to overcome the challenges or you can never improve the situation
  • Bullying, physical violence or harassment
  • Misunderstanding among family, friends, colleagues, etc.
  • Fewer opportunities to work.
  • You are only there for yourself to get through this. You need to understand this and talk it out with your closed ones before it exaggerates to something nasty.

Here are some steps to deal with stigma:

  • Don’t let the fear of being labelled as a mental patient, resist you from getting treatment. Treatment can improve your conditions by reducing symptoms that are interfering with your work or life.
  • Stigma just not necessarily come from others. There are also cases where people start to believe their condition to be a personal weakness. Educate yourself about the condition, seek counselling, speak out your problems out and try to connect with people suffering from the same condition. Connecting with similar people will help you overcome the problem of self-judgement.
  • You may be reluctant to speak out your problems. Your parents, friends or closed ones can help you, support you through the times. All you need is to reach out to the people whom you trust.
  • If your child has a mental illness that affects his learning or impairs his learning abilities, search for plans or programs that would help him. Talk to the teachers or the school administration and chalk out the best possible approach. The teacher must know his/her problems, otherwise, it could lead to discrimination and build up consequently the next cycle of problems.
  • Learn to speak out against stigma. Voice your opinions through articles, social media or any public forum, to inject courage among the people facing similar challenges and educate the public about it.
  • Learning to accept your problems and taking the necessary steps to improve your condition could make a big difference.