Stigmatization Around Mental Health

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Throughout the world, social stigma has been discovered and acknowledged as a
serious issue in health care and human services. It was initially characterized as a
ruined identity that brings a person’s reputation into disrepute in society. Individuals
who are stigmatized are said to possess some trait that reflects a social identity that
is undervalued in a specific social setting (Mak et al., 2007). In the eyes of the public,
stigma entails the acceptance of a collection of prejudiced beliefs, unpleasant
emotional responses, discriminating behaviors, and social institutions that are biased
against members of a grouping. It entails the stigmatized persons being labeled,
stereotyped, separated, losing their position, and discriminated against in a power
dynamic (Corrigan, 2000).
One particularly important form of stigmatization that has garnered much attention
recently, is the stigmatization of mental health. According to studies, the severity of
this stigmatization varies depending on the illness and sociocultural group to which
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October 10, 2021 2
the target group belongs (Lee et al., 2005; Mak et al., 2007). According to the Mental
Health Foundation, approximately nine out of ten persons with mental illnesses
report that stigma and prejudice have a detrimental influence on their life. They also
claim that people with mental illnesses are among the least likely of any group with
a long-term health condition or handicap to obtain a job, have long-term
relationships, live in decent housing, and be socially integrated (Mental Health
Foundation, n.d.).
For individuals with mental health disorders who face societal stigma and prejudice,
this stigmatization can significantly exacerbate their problems and make recovery
more difficult. It may drive the individual to delay seeking treatment because they
are afraid of being stigmatized. This manuscript aims to uncover some of the
possible reasons that explain why mental health is associated with stigmatization.
Analysis of literature centered on the subject reveals that there are multiple reasons
why mental health is stigmatized. As per the Mental Health Foundation, the two
main explanations for mental health stigmatization revolve around the existence of
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October 10, 2021 3
stereotypes, and irresponsible media coverage. A variety of stereotypes are known
to exist throughout society in relation to mental illnesses. An example of such
stereotyping is the fact that a significant proportion of the population holds the belief
that individuals who suffer from mental illnesses and mental health disorders are a
threat to society and the people around them, whereas in reality, research has
revealed that individuals who suffer from mental health disorders are more likely to
be assaulted themselves or are at a higher risk of harming themselves than other
members of the society (Mental Health Foundation, n.d.). This stereotyping is often
attributed to the fact that individuals who suffer from mental health disorders are
frequently depicted in the media as dangerous, criminals, or wicked, or severely
handicapped and unable to live regular, fulfilled lives.
According to one study, the isolation of the mental health treatment system from the
rest of healthcare in the nineteenth century gave rise to the subsequent stigmatization
of mental health. (Shrivastava et al., 2012). However, it is known that stigma comes
from a variety of factors that work together to have severe consequences in an
individual’s life. According to Shrivastava et al (2012) stigmatization stems from
personal, societal, and familial factors, as well as the character of the mental health
disorder. Meanwhile, several studies have found that stigma is caused by a lack of
understanding, education, perception, and the nature and consequences of mental
illness, such as strange behaviors and violence.
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October 10, 2021 4
The causes and effects of stigma are sometimes identical, leading to biases that affect
attitudes, which, in turn, perpetuates prejudices. In this setting, both self-stigma and
perceived stigma play a role in the outcomes, which include changes in familial and
social views. The notion of self-stigma and perceived stigma can explain most of the
impact of the stigma, with self-stigma described as regions of the stigma that can be
classified as personal, social, family, medical, and disease treatments. Perceived
stigma, on the other hand, pertains to how people think about stigma and how it
affects their coping style (Reeder & Pryor, 2008).
In addition to the cases outlined above, public sources, such as employers, have been
identified as a key source of stigma. A study that used specific questions in large
interview-based research to try to pinpoint the sources of stigma concluded that
stigma and discrimination were more commonly encountered during the acute phase
of the disease due to socially undesirable behaviors (Loganathan & Murthy, 2008).
These findings are in line with other studies which revealed that knowing about the
acute phase of psychosis increased stigma. Individuals who had no prior experience
with the mentally ill-regarded them as dangerous and preferred to avoid them
(Shrivastava et al., 2012).
To conclude, stigmatization of mental health can be attributed to several factors
including societal stereotypes, irresponsible media coverage that gives rise to these
stereotypes, a lack of public awareness regarding mental health disorders,
uneducated perceptions and beliefs regarding mental illnesses, and an interplay of
self-stigma and perceived stigma among others. Everyone, most importantly, has a
responsibility to play in reducing mental health stigma. People should become more
knowledgeable about mental health issues and have a greater understanding of what
life is like for those who suffer from them. They can assist debunk prevalent beliefs
and preconceptions in themselves and others by doing so.
Bayan Research Center of America
Bayan Research Center | www.bayanresearch.org | Stigmatization Around mental Health
October 10,

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