Stigmas associated with Mental Health

Stigma is something that is viewed and perceived negatively. In India, the term “Mental Health” has a strong stigma attached because of the distinguished characteristics or personal traits that are thought or perceived to be weird and crazy. The negative attitudes and beliefs that people have developed towards mental health are causing a serious problem, hindering actual people who have serious mental health problems from seeking help. The danger of stigmatizing mental health can lead to discrimination. Discrimination can cause negative regard for individuals who are suffering from mental health issues and prevent them from reaching out for help, which can make it too late to treat or save the person.

People with mental health are characterized as violent beings; anxious people are seen as cowards rather than having a disorder; people with depression are told to “snap out of it.” The list goes on for every disorder. The harmful outcomes of stigmatizing mental health

  • Refusal to seek treatment and counseling
  • Family, friends, co-workers, or other people can become insensitive and show a lack of understanding towards someone suffering from a mental disorder.
  • Opportunities are taken away.
  • Bullying and verbal abuse using words like freak, retarded, etc.
  • Self-esteem and confidence can be affected.
  • People with mental health illnesses may feel ashamed or embarrassed.

The first step to take to de-stigmatize mental health is to increase awareness by providing mental health literacy to all people of all age groups. Mental health professionals and people who have overcome and been treated can share their stories to create a safe space for everyone to speak about their mental health struggles and seek the help that they need.

Some things to be mindful in talking about mental health.

Common things that are used to address or talk to about mental health Change of words & sentence
Mentally retarded or ill People with mental illness or People live with mental illness.
He or she is schizophrenic, depressive, always anxious He or she has schizophrenia, depression, or anxiety disorder.
He or she is an addict, junkie, freak or abuser or drunkard Patient or person with substance abuse disorder
Clean or dirty Testing positive or Testing negative
Commit or committed suicide Died by suicide or lost his or her life to suicide
He or she always gives excuse or reason. He or she is going through mental health issue.
All this will pass. Everyone experience these. Everyone is different, take their own time.

The less stigmatizing choice of words emphasizes humanity more than the issue or diagnosis. This will also create a safe and secure space for people with mental issues to confide and seek help. Even in situations where you don’t understand what they are going through, it is better to be quiet about it than utter an insensitive or generalizing statement to them. First of all, educate yourself and others about mental health, as there are so many misconceptions and negative comments. It is essential to know the facts and experience. Be conscious of the language you use with people, and remind others around you to use better words. Choose to be sensitive to them rather than put them in shame or make them feel even low about themselves.



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