Alleviating Mental Health Stigma

By: Matthew Quach

Copy Edited By: Amanda Hirsch and Maggie McPherson

Research Edited by: Sean Cotnam

Format Edited By: Arthur Carlton-Jones


General Psychiatric Stigma

Mental illness has always been an issue that is kept into a hushed regulation. Don’t see, don’t tell. In individuals, the main stake is embarrassment, a negative outlook on admitting that they have this mental illness.[1] This embarrassment is coined as self-stigma. In addition to this, poor mental health, and the inability to admit having it also results in poor self-esteem, recovery, and general lack of self worth.[2] Issues within a localized community also cause what is known as cultural-stigma. Unlike self-stigma, cultural-stigma is much less easily remedied. This is due to the lack of change in a cultural phenomena and attitudes towards mental illness from which stigma had cultivated. Such outlooks are unlikely to shift.

Cultural/Health Factors in Relation

In Hispanic communities, intervention and religions means are commonplace substitutes for more scientific and medical means of care. However, the prominence of education concerning mental health issues in schools is breaking such traditional treatments in favor of more modern and effective treatment options. Though education in these modern techniques is being injected into these communities, college educated folk will still find themselves falling back onto the more primal forms of intervention, showing that cultural practices are indeed ingrained.[3] Cultural practices will always take precedent, for they are the comfortable home remedy. Though these practices mean well, they are most usually ineffective.

Within the San Diego area, Women claimed to have experienced more stigma than that of their male counterparts. Males on the other hand, take a less positive stance in tackling the issue at hand. In both genders, the younger the individual, the increased likelihood of being discriminated against.[4]  Age is the most definitive factor. On the opposite end of the age spectrum, the elderly are the most susceptible to poor mental health. In a research effort conducted in an urban area, and one of rural environment, both groups showed similar outlooks when concerning seeking out help.[5]It is expected that more populous, urban communities would more likely be tolerant and accepting, an effect of modern progression of idealism and thought. However, with this study, it appears that such a polarization is nonexistent. Instead, it is bound to an individualistic approach. Those who need help, will generally come out to seek it at more advanced ages.   

Attempts in Change

Though advancements in the treatment and identification of mental health are seemingly adequate, there could always be an improvement. In an extensive stunt by several psychologists, they called for pediatricians to increase their reach in discovering mental illness.[6] Involvement, the want to often mitigates proper care. Services must be wholly accepted to make an substantial effect. Thus, a preventative movement from medical clinics and facilities would alleviate much of this. Along the topic of mental facilities and their care, a modern critique of the mental health system as is, calls for a more quantitative approach. Agencies would need to take an active duty in diverting mental health stigma, a change which incites a positive change of the global health agenda.

It is believed that contact with those afflicted with mental health issues and other unaffected members of society is pivotal in empathy. Governments in the United States have thus, launched nationwide campaigns to project this message into the public.[7] To eliminate archaic thoughts and relical assumptions of mental health and dissipate negative stereotypes, it is necessary to create a commotion within the public, as education within the school system is not enough to compound the agenda into relevance.   

Conclusive Thoughts

Mental health is the illness that is hidden. It is not always eminent and thus, is a difficult problem to postulate and draw out properly, if the affected population does not make attempts to better themselves and seek help. Thus, the blocking of this seeking is blamed onto the negative view of poor mental health: Stigma. Stigmatic relations within a community will cause the general public to be ashamed of their state and not seek out help because of their disposition. In the modern era, mental health is not so much a taboo in the United States and medication is offered readily. In minority groups, there is a deficit in care for mental health. It is not a populous issue, because it has been galvanized into obscurity, and will not be attended to effectively. Eventually, it is likely to become a matter that is comfortable, as indicated by the progression of its understanding.  

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