Most people suffering from mental illnesses shirk from seeking help, fearing the prejudice they might encounter from people around themselves. The stigma and stereotype surrounding mental illness increase the pain and suffering of mentally ill patients.
The fact that stigma poses such an immense hurdle to seeking treatment makes it difficult for them to look for professional help. This makes it imperative for governing bodies and officials concerned to implement necessary measures that would help tackle this situation. The need of the hour is intervention policies aimed at alleviating dishonor intended against psychologically distraught patients.
The Mental Illness Awareness Week, observed from October 2 to 8 every year, aims at replacing the tendency of stigma with compassion for mentally ill people.
Feeling alienated common among mentally ill patients
A recent report, titled “Personal stigma in schizophrenia spectrum disorders: a systematic review of prevalence rates, correlates, impact and interventions,” revealed that perceptions and experiences of stigma among mentally ill patients are common among those seeking treatment for spectrum disorders associated with schizophrenia.
The authors of the report, published in the journal World Psychiatry in July 2016, also indicated how lack of necessary steps aimed at mitigating stigma is affecting treatment of people looking for the much needed help. The authors analyzed 54 articles published from 1994 to 2011 and assessed the pervasiveness of personal stigma and correlated the same with effects reflected by schizophrenics.
An analysis of the articles pinpointed that nearly 64.5 percent patients interpreted behavior of people analogous to stigma, while 55.9 percent respondents had already experienced stigma in the past. Also, nearly half the respondents reported feelings of detachment, characteristic of self-stigma.
The observations are based on findings of sample sizes, ranging between 31 and 1,229 participants, included during the course of the study. While mentioning about emotions associated with perceived stigma, the scientists also informed that a major part of the studies was carried out in Europe and America with percentage of male respondents ranging from 38 percent to 71 percent.
Stigma higher among close relations
Self-stigma constricts chance of recovery, support and adequate treatment. The highest level of problem was found among interpersonal interactions, while the lowest level of discrimination was experienced during insurance-related matters. The respondents informed about their experiences of isolation being felt most among interpersonal relations as opposed to the level of structural stigma.
During the study, it was found that there were only two intervention trials designed to combat the ills associated with personal stigma. The authors said, “This is in contrast to numerous interventions aimed at reducing public stigma.”
In one of the two studies, there was a perceived decrease in the discrimination score and increased coping skills in the experimental group that included a culturally sensitive psycho-educational group program extended over a period of 10 weeks.
Perceived stigma can result in feelings of self-stigma in which mentally ill people tend to turn against themselves. This can result in increased difficulties in such people seeking necessary and effective treatment to tackle their psychiatric disorders.
Rejecting people due to their mental illnesses is equivalent to stripping them off their civil rights and equal access to available opportunities. Not all mentally ill people pose a danger to the society; some are capable enough to go about their daily activities with no outsider suspecting about the existence of their diagnosable mental illness.
If you or your loved one is suffering from any mental problem, contact Sovereign Mental Health Services for instant help. Call at our 24/7 helpline number 866-954-0529 or chat online with one of our experts to know about our various mental health facilities in California or other places in the U.S.