Mental Health

Stigma About Mental Health – Impact of Stigma Around Mental Health Issues

black silhouette of girl next to a red sea. stigma against mental health.

Last Updated on

May 3rd, 2024 08:37 pm

Did you know that almost 1 in 5 of the world’s population suffer from mental health issues at any one time? But despite this huge number, there’s a huge stigma about mental health in many cultures.

Most of us don’t question this. After all, many around the world are brought up that emotions are a sign of weakness, in a world where many are affected behind closed doors.

But as we’re about to uncover, mental health is more than just depression and anxiety. After all, are those who stigmatize mental health issues in fact those who struggle most in society?

Let’s take a closer look and work all this out.

What Is Stigma? Defining Mental Health Stigma

Stigma is a social construct that is used to identify and label negative attitudes

towards certain individuals or groups. It is often used to create a sense of separation or difference between those who are stigmatized and those who are not.

Stigma is often a term used in relation to mental health. It refers to the fear, avoidance, and discrimination that people with mental health issues face. People can be stigmatized for mental illnesses, health conditions, physical illness, or disabilities.

Psychiatry is still often thought of as negative or shameful because it often speaks to issues with mental health and personality disorders such as schizophrenia and depression which are not usually associated with medical conditions like diabetes and cancer.

Stigma is one of the leading risk factors contributing to poor health causing serious mental health challenges. It causes delays in mental health treatment, a reduction in care, or both. Research has shown that stigma leads to negative consequences such as delaying care and reducing chances of receiving adequate care, much to the dismay of mental health professionals who are there to help.

Different Types of Public Stigma Around Mental Illnesses

There are many types of stigma associated with mental health. Some of these stigmas include the belief that people with mental health challenges are dangerous, that mental health conditions are a personal weakness, that mental health conditions are a character flaw, and that people with mental health challenges are automatically crazy.

These dangers associated with attitudes cause more harm than good in the lives of people who struggle in today’s world, and often come from a place where many have their own insecurities about the world around them.

There are three types of stigma among people when it comes to mental health: public, internalized, and cultural.

Public Stigma

Public stigma is often discrimination or devaluation by others that may lead to individuals not receiving adequate care for their conditions. Public stigma refers to stereotypes of people with behavioral health conditions. It can have a negative effect on job prospects, housing decisions, and healthcare quality.

Internalized Stigma

Self-esteem and self-efficacy are affected by internalized stigmas. Internalized stigma is the most common form of stigma associated with mental health. Internalization of negative stereotypes can cause persistent doubt and hopelessness in people who have experienced stigma throughout their lives.

Cultural Stigma

Cultural stigma can include themes that align with universal shared thoughts and opinions. Such attitudes toward people are rooted in themes including (but not exclusively) faith, legal, political, economic, and educational systems. Cultural stigma can also refer to beliefs held by an individual or group that are based on culture rather than science.

In most cases, the stigma that comes from these cultural influences worsens as people get older. If a person has been brought up to stick to tradition as opposed to change with the world around them, this can cause a huge distress later in life as they are unable to accommodate with the stigma from younger or more progressive people that their views are “old-fashioned” or “backward”.

Similarly, this same issue can also be the primary cause of cultural stigma the opposite way, where those who disagree with the changing attitudes of society stigmatize those around them.

Examples of Stigma Towards Illnesses

Public stigma is the way society sees people with mental illness. It is usually directed outward and can be very harmful. Self-stigma is when people with mental illness begin to see themselves in a negative light because of their diagnosis.

This type of mental stigma can keep people from seeking help or treatment. Internal stigma is when people with mental illness believe the negative thoughts and stereotypes about themselves that are perpetuated by society. This type of stigma can be very damaging and lead to feelings of isolation and hopelessness.

It can be an attribute, behavior, or reputation that is socially discrediting. People with mental illness are often the targets of such behavior which can even be triggered by the internal stigma of those around them such as a loved one. That, in turn, can trigger the development of an anxiety or depressive disorder over time.

Self-stigma is the worst kind because it’s coming from within. It can keep people from getting help and make them feel ashamed, hopeless and worthless.

Public Attitudes see Illnesses as Sign of a “Weak Character”

Stigma toward people with mental health conditions include being seen as weak, dangerous, or incompetent. This view of mental illness can keep people from getting the help they need. It can also lead to discrimination and social exclusion.

They may also be less likely to receive medical care. Stigma can prevent people from seeking treatment for their mental health condition. This can make their condition worse.


Societal Stigma About Illnesses

One of the most common is the belief that people with mental health conditions are dangerous or unpredictable. This can lead to people being afraid to be around those who have a mental health condition, and can also result in discrimination against them. Another common stigma is the idea that people with mental health conditions are weak or lazy. This can make it difficult for people with mental health conditions to seek help, as they may feel ashamed or embarrassed.

Finally, there is the perception that mental health conditions are rare and unusual, which can make it hard for people who are struggling to find support.

People With Illnesses are Dangerous or Unpredictable

This stigma toward people with mental, and even physical illnesses in rare cases, can lead to people feeling scared or ashamed to talk about their mental health, which can make it harder for them to get help. Some people may also avoid working with or talking to someone who they think might have a mental health problem.

People with Mental Illnesses are “Weak and Lazy”

This mental illness stigma can often prevent people from seeking help, as they feel like they are not good enough or strong enough to deal with their problems. Additionally, this belief can also lead to discrimination and ridicule towards those who suffer from mental health issues. This is especially an issue in men, where the traditional definition of masculinity causes many to suppress their emotions, resulting in a mid-life crisis.

Seeing Mental Illnesses as a Personal Failure

This couldn’t be further from the truth – mental health problems can be caused by genetics, traumatic experiences, or even just the stress of day-to-day life. But regardless of where they come from, mental health problems are real, and should be treated as such.

What Is the Impact of Stigma on Mental Health Care?

Mental illness is often viewed as a personal failing, and those who suffer from it often feel immense shame and guilt. This can lead to people with mental illness hiding their condition from friends and family, and in some cases, from employers. The stigma associated with mental illness can also prevent people from seeking mental health care treatment, which can further hinder their recovery.

Mental illness often carries a social stigma, which means that people with mental health problems may be viewed in a negative light by others. This can have a number of harmful effects on people suffering from mental or physical illness. Social rejection can be a real issue, especially with the most vulnerable in isolated communities who don’t have access to mental health services.

Firstly, mental health stigma can make it difficult for people with mental health problems to participate in society. They may feel ashamed or embarrassed to tell others about their condition, and they may be reluctant to reach out to mental health services. This can lead to isolation and loneliness, which can worsen the symptoms of mental illness.

Secondly, people with mental illness may take on board the prejudiced views held by others and affect their self-esteem. They may believe that they are not worthy of respect or love, and this can cause them great distress. These public conceptions end up becoming self-fulfilling and toxic to the individual who needs support to heal. Some may not even be aware there are mental health services that support those in this position.

The effects of stigma can be distressing and worsen the symptoms of mental illness, even if they don’t cause them initially. It is therefore important that we do everything we can to break down the barriers that exist between people with mental illness and society as a whole.

Discriminatory Behavior Can Limit Access to Help for Illnesses

They may worry that the individual will not be able to handle the demands of the job or that they will pose a safety risk to other employees. Some people with mental illness may also face discrimination in the workplace. This can make it difficult for them to find employment and maintain their job.

For example, someone with Bipolar Disorder or Dissociative Identity Disorder may have periods where they are unable to work due to their symptoms. People with schizophrenia may experience hallucinations or delusions that interfere with their ability to work. Other conditions, such as depression and anxiety, can also lead to decreased productivity or missed days at work.

This can make it harder for them to gain much-needed access to treatments and lead the empowered life they deserve. Whether it comes down to cultural norms or the overemphasis on economic costs, the emotional distress that comes from a traumatic event should never be overlooked.

What Can We Do to Reduce the Effects of Mental Illness Stigma?

Some ways to reduce the implications for stigma on people with mental illness are to:

– Educate people about mental health disorders and psychiatric illness.

– Promote understanding and compassion not a negative attitude.

– Challenge the myths and stereotypes to eradicate discrimination against people with a mental disorder.

– Break the silence about mental illness and other psychiatric conditions.

– Support people with mental illness and their families to improve quality of life.

However, there is still a lot of stigma and negative beliefs attached to mental illness, despite the presence of effective treatments and support services from mental health professionals. This stigma can prevent people from seeking help and lead to discrimination.

First, we need to educate ourselves about mental health and the various types of mental illness. We need to be aware that mental illness is a real disease, just like cancer or diabetes. We should also learn about the symptoms of different types of mental illness so that we can identify them in ourselves and in others.

stigma about mental health

Destigmatize All Illnesses for Good

We should not be ashamed or embarrassed to discuss our mental health with friends or family members. We should also be willing to listen when others want to talk about their own experiences with mental illness. It’s time to challenge stigma once and for all and improve the quality of life for everyone.

Mental illness is not caused by personal weakness or lack of willpower. It is not something that someone can just “snap out” of if they try hard enough. Mental illness is a real medical condition that deserves our respect and understanding. It affects all of us in more ways than we can ever imagine.

Keep reading for more inspiring content!

Disclosure: Every time you click on a link on our site, we may get a small commission paid to us. We do this to keep the content free-to-read. If you're privacy focused, you can support the site by using Brave Browser and BAT tokens - We're verified creators! Thank you for helping us showcase the future of neurodivergent talent.

What is your reaction?

In Love
Not Sure
Rob Butler
30-Something Millennial with ADHD and suspected Autistic and Dyspraxic. Thought leader behind this website. Big visions of a better future for everyone, but forgets where he is half the time.Loves Rugby, his kids, and anything silly. Hates U2 and Marmite.

You may also like

Comments are closed.