Why is mental illness so stigmatized?

One in four people in the world will be affected by mental or neurological disorders at some point in their lives. Around 450 million people currently suffer from such conditions, placing mental disorders among the leading causes of ill-health and disability worldwide.

Treatments are available, but nearly two-thirds of people with a known mental disorder never seek help from a health professional. Stigma, discrimination and neglect prevent care and treatment from reaching people with mental disorders, says the World Health Organization (WHO). Where there is neglect, there is little or no understanding. Where there is no understanding, there is neglect.

http://www.who.int/whr/2001/media_centre/press_release/en/

Most people I know that have mental illness in any way all say the same; people don’t understand. Even though there are MANY of us who struggle and that its more common than you think its still something we don’t talk about. Its shameful and we are scared we’ll be judged and left out. Why is it still like that? Why is it so hard to change the perception of what a person with mental illness is like?

I really don’t have the answer, but it baffles me that an illness that is actually so much more common than you think is so stigmatized. People around me who struggle and have tried to talk to their boss at work about it has been met with «OMG, you just have to think positive» and being questioned if their plan is now to stop working and just live on welfare. What are you thinking when you’re saying things like that? If it was that easy as to just «think positive» then nobody would actually be depressed. And why do you think that at person that struggles has no other goals in life than to just live on welfare? How do you think it feels to be met like that..? I’m just lost for words.

Not only is it hard to admit for oneself that «yes, I am suffering and I need help», and also having to deal with a diagnosis, but when society meets you with attitudes like that you only get it confirmed that yes, you are a loser. All your negative thoughts is right. People will never accept you and you’re alone in this. And that is BULLSHIT. Please wake up and educate yourselves! Don’t make people feeling worse than they need over things they have NO CONTROL of. We are not dangerous. We are not just crying uncontrollably. We are humans, too. Just read statistics and see how people think of us and try to see yourself in that situation. Not so fun.

My next post will have advice on how to talk to someone who is struggling. I know it might be hard to know how to be around someone who struggles, and that you’re not sure what to say or do. And that’s ok.

But, for a start, just don’t judge. Don’t tell someone to «stop feeling sorry for themselves» or «think positive». If it were that easy people wouldn’t end up taking their own lives.

Read more about mental illness and stigma here:

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/why-we-worry/201308/mental-health-stigma

https://www.mentalhelp.net/aware/the-stigma-of-mental-illness/


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