Study reveals widespread ignorance about causes of mental illness

Study reveals widespread ignorance about causes of mental illness

“The most violent element in society is ignorance.” – Emma Goldman

It is believed that ignorance is the root of all violence, misbelief and agony. Even a person with mental illness believes that he/she is being punished by God for having bad character or evil actions. The society is still prejudiced against people with mental health problems and do not take the associated complications seriously.

A recent study published in the Society and Mental Health explained the widespread anomalies in the understanding of mental health disorders, such as schizophrenia, depression and alcoholism. The researchers from the Baylor University focused on how stigma permeates the psyche of individuals and how it hinders treatment. Both drug and alcohol addiction problem are examples of a discordant brain and hence their underpinnings are psychological instead of physiological. But many people, including those in the mental health community, still do not understand this aspect and harbor negative feelings against people with mental problems. The study authors have also indicated that public awareness campaigns need to do more to remove the stigma associated with mental illness.

The study made an analysis of data from a 2006 general social survey of 1,147 odd individuals who were presented situations involving people with schizophrenia, depression and alcoholism. They were then asked to ascertain the likely cause of the problem. The were provided with a mix of scientific and non-scientific factors like:

  • Chemical imbalances in the brain
  • Bad or flawed character
  • God’s will
  • Bad socio-psychological environment
  • Genetics
  • Stress and other such life circumstances

The researchers then measured stigma depending on how far an individual was keen on staying close to the individual, marrying into his/her family, working together, becoming a friend and spending an evening out with them.

The study revealed that most respondents considered a combination of chemical imbalances in the brain, genetic abnormalities and stressful life circumstances as the likely causes for depression and schizophrenia. However, there was a considerable disdain attached with alcoholism. A resounding 27 percent of the respondents believed that amoral character, chemical imbalance in the brain, stressful life circumstances, and upbringing contributed to alcohol addiction.

According to the lead author, Matthew A. Andersson, discrepancy arises when “Individuals who endorse biological beliefs that mental illness is ‘a disease like any other’ also tend to endorse other, non-biological beliefs, making the overall effect of biological beliefs quite convoluted and sometimes negative.” He also asserted that the same line of research could be undertaken for addressing other socio-economic issues like marital stress, stress at work and other brain dysfunctions.

Mental problems are treatable

The state of mental health in America is a cause of concern. While there are many who receive the benefits of treatment, a silent majority often goes undiagnosed. This demographic includes not only the elderly, but also teens, middle class and unemployed men.

According to the Mental Health America, 43 million Americans live with a mental health problem. Sadly, a resounding 57 percent of American adults are unable to access appropriate treatment. The report also highlighted the plight of children and indicated that they are the ones who have been suffering the most. The report indicated that 76 percent of children living with depression did not receive appropriate treatment.

Sound mental health and quality of life

Mental illnesses are treatable, provided one seeks timely help. Fear of stigma and discrimination should not deter someone from getting the necessary support and ending their struggles. Sovereign Health is a leading mental health and substance abuse treatment provider for both adults and adolescents in the U.S. Our residential mental health treatment centers in California cater to the unique needs of patients through evidence-based treatment.

If you suspect that you or your loved one manifests symptoms of any mental disorder, it is best to consult an expert. Call our 24/7 helpline or chat with a trained specialist to know about our residential mental health treatment in California comprising holistic recovery programs.

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