Does anyone think about how a person feels when he/she is labelled as mentally ill ? The answer is probably ‘No’, because we donot view ourselves putting foot in others shoe.
When a person is labelled as ‘depressed’ or ‘sichzophrenic’ , the person’s whole life gets labelled and has to face discrimination and stigma. Themental condition is not mandatorily life long, in most situations , symptoms of mental illness fades away with the passage of time . However, the scar of stigma doesnot as the person scarred for life.
Stigma is a mark of disgrace that sets a person apart. When a person is labelled by their illness, they arre seen as part of stereotyped group,such as having mental illness.Stigma can be seen in many forms- internal or external .
In internalized stigma , the person internalizes the stigma, feels loss of control and accepts denigration. This leads to self-perception of shame, guilt and fear, which leads to protective action, usually the individual avoiding others and living in isolation. Isolation makes situation worse, and the cycle repeats.
External stigmas or social stigmas are commonly defined, and worm through people avoiding contact and not even doing business with the stignatized, treating them as inferior.
Stigma brings experiences and feelings of:
Families are also affected by stigma, leading to a lack of support. For mental health professionals, stigma means that they themselves are seen as abnormal, corrupt or evil, and psychiatric treatments are often viewed with suspicion and horror.
A 2006 Australian study found that
Some groups are subjected to multiple types of stigma and discrimination at the same time, such as people with an intellectual disability or those from a cultural or ethnic minority.
How can we challenge stigma?
We all have a role in creating a mentally healthy community that supports recovery and social inclusion and reduces discrimination. Simple ways to help include:
talk openly of your own experience of mental illness. The more hidden mental illness remains, the more people continue to believe that it is shameful and needs to be concealed.
Stigma and Mental Health – Sudarshana Sengupta