6 Mental Illness Stigmas That Need To Go Away
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Health and Wellness

6 Mental Illness Stigmas That Need To Go Away

Mental Illness is hard enough without your ignorance

6 Mental Illness Stigmas That Need To Go Away

A Stigma is a negative stereotype created from prejudice, and held against a group of people. Not only are stigmas damaging, but stigmas held against the mentally ill are making their illness worse, which is why understanding these stigmas, and removing them from society, is so important.

1. The Mentally ill are "crazy" or "dangerous"

From a young age, we are taught to distance ourselves from people who are visibly different or dangerous. Maybe this cautionary tale exceeds us as we age, yet people do not pause when labeling the mentally ill as "crazy" and "dangerous." This perception is fueled by media stories that paint violent perpetrators as “mentally ill” without providing the context of the broad spectrum of mental illness. These negative attitudes often manifest as social distancing with respect to people with mental illness. This stigma and social distancing have the potential to worsen the well-being of those with mental illness in several ways. Those with mental health issues recognize and internalize this stigma, often developing a "self-stigma," resulting in a “why try” attitude that can worsen prospects of recovery.

2. Young adults declaring a mental illness are seeking attention

If anyone is at most risk for mental illness, it is young people. The biological stress on their bodies alone can create mass commotion, caused by hormone and chemical imbalance that comes with puberty. In criticizing their emotions, mental illness can worsen and carry over into adulthood as well as encourage suicidal thoughts. Mental illness in young adults is a very sever issue, people often dismiss the true problem and blame the one who is struggling, all we can do is listen with an open-mind and be willing to understand.

3. It's the parent's fault if their child has a mental illness

While in some cases this is true, it is not a universal truth. Mental illnesses can be caused for many different reasons, and no one wants mental illness to occur, especially to a loved one. Family members of someone with a mental illness are most likely blaming themselves already, without public back lash. It doesn't always have to be someone's "fault." While environmental factors can affect a person’s mental health, biological factors can affect individuals just as actively. Mental health conditions are not simply a side effect of parenting, but a combination of influences. Mental illness can be caused through many culminations of things and it only hurts those involved to place blame, especially when you should be discussing ways to make things better.

4. Depression and anxiety is a character flaw and you should snap out of it

Depression and anxiety is not something that can be turned off and on like a light switch. That is like telling someone with a cold to stop feeling sick. There is no choice in the matter. Why would someone want to feel like they're constantly worried about something or feel like they have no where to belong? These mental illnesses are the most likely to be experienced among women, young adults, and even children, and some don't even understand the illness they are experiencing, let alone know where to seek help. In carrying this stigma, we discourage those suffering to seek help, and it is only getting worse. We would never discourage someone with the flu to go seek a doctor, so why should we silence those that are suffering through these mental illnesses?

5. Addiction is a lifestyle choice

Whether it be drugs, alcohol, food, or hoarding, addictions are not a choice. You can not understand everything there is to know about every living being on this planet, it is not possible. Some people think addiction cannot be a disease because it is caused by the individual’s choice to use drugs or alcohol. While the first use (or early stage use) may be by choice, once the brain has been changed by addiction, most experts believe that the person loses control of their behavior. Choice does not determine whether something is a disease. Heart disease, diabetes and some forms of cancer involve personal choices like diet, exercise, sun exposure, etc. A disease is what happens in the body as a result of those choices. People with addiction should not be blamed for suffering from the disease, what they need is help, not your judgment.

6. All mental heath symptoms are visible

What you see is not necessarily what is the truth. Many people suffering from mental illness suffer from symptoms that can be easily concealed from an uneducated eye. Just because someone is smiling on the outside, does not mean they aren't suffering on the inside. Symptoms of a mental health condition can come and go. There are often environmental factors that can influence a way person feels. Additionally, there are also just times when a person may exhibit symptoms more strongly.

Here are some ways you can crush these Mental Illness stigmas.

  • Using person-first language. This means that a person is not their illness; an example would be saying “she has depression” not “she is depressed”
  • Do not use offensive slang. A person with a mental health condition is not “crazy,” “psycho,” “insane,” or “loony.” When you use these words you are implying again that a person is solely their illness.

How to help someone you know of struggling with a Mental Illness

  • Learn as much as possible about mental health and their condition.
  • Show interest in their treatment plan.
  • Encourage them to get better at their own pace.
  • Strive for an atmosphere of cooperation within their environment
  • Listen carefully.
  • Resume "normal" activities and routines.
  • Don't push too hard.
  • Find support.
  • Express your support out loud.
  • Keep yourself and them safe.
  • Prepare a crisis plan
  • Don't give up.
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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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