In recent years, there has been an increase in the number of people who suffer from mental illnesses. Furthermore, there are misconceptions about what mental illness is and as to how it affects someone. Mental illness has always been portrayed in a negative and inaccurate manner in the media and this has created a lack of understanding and support because of the misleading information.
The media often perpetuates negative opinions and biases which makes the public fearful and reluctant to associate those with psychiatric disorders. Mental illness sufferers are made to feel ashamed, incapable and different. Although there have been more campaigns to raise awareness about mental illness, the effects these campaigns have had on reducing stigma have been dismal. Sufferers of mental illness face discrimination and isolation in all of their daily activities. Many assume these individuals are violent, dangerous and a risk to others. Misunderstanding, stigmatization and lack of action have resulted in a suffering community who face a number of different challenges consistently. Educating people about mental illnesses will lessen the misunderstandings and create more room for support which is what they need.
Society has always inflicted negative stereotypes upon those with mental illnesses and as to how it works. The stigma makes it more difficult for the treatment and recovery process of those who suffer from it. People make unfair judgments, keep their distance and the media presents biased stories that revolve around stereotypes and they are deemed as “freaks”. These quick and unfair judgments accelerate the stigma around them. Consequently, this limits a patient from getting the necessary help and treatment they require. Parents are typically the first to detect a change in behavior but often times, parents believe when a child is moody and distant that it is part of a “phase” and they are just growing. While that could be the case for some, they could also be seen as signs of a mental illness that they are unaware of. The first step to be taken is to admit there is a problem.
They have to address these issues rather than waiting for its consequences because the longer they are left untreated the more severe they get. Another way stigma and discrimination can be reduced are through understanding and patience with the sufferer. Alienating is only going to make them feel more shameful and isolated than they already do.
A study shows that “46% of these adolescents described experiencing stigmatization by family members in the form of unwarranted assumptions (e.g. the sufferer was being manipulative), distrust, avoidance, pity and gossip, 62% experienced stigma from peers which often led to friendship losses and social rejection”. Family and friends can be most helpful on the road to recovery if they make the attempt to understand what their loved one is going through. Recovery is an exercise in patience, love, and understanding.
Due to the fact that there is such a large misconception about mental illness, many sufferers are misdiagnosed and receive the wrong treatments. Misdiagnosis can keep patients from achieving psychological wellness and create more dangerous psychological and behavioral conditions in the patient. The mental illness that is most often misjudged for depression is bipolar disorder.
Offering antidepressants to a sufferer of bipolar disorder would put them at heightened risk of mania, increased frequency of mood switching, and more severe depressive episodes than if they received no treatment at all. Furthermore, an analysis of “50,000 patients published in the Lancet found that general practitioners only correctly identified depression in patients in 47.3% of cases.” The unfortunate reality is that many citizens with mental disorders end up in jail or homeless due to lack of or wrong treatment. Approximately five hundred thousand inmates were found to suffer from some kind of mental illness and this was identified because prison offers better mental health care than public mental health care facilities. Prisoners with mental disorders would end up staying longer because they cannot follow tasks or strict rules due to the nature of their disorder. Since many people are living improperly treated they start to lose hope, feel more misunderstood and that nothing will help them. To be given an incorrect diagnosis will make them feel that their efforts have been wasted and the courage it took them to seek help for their disorder would be crushed.
Mental illness disrupts a lot, from to day-to-day activities to going to work or school. The longer a person has to wait for the right treatment, the longer their life remains on hold and in danger because receiving proper treatment is a part of the road to recovery. One of the most widely believed myths is that mental illness is not as damaging as physical illnesses.
People with physical disorders are treated with more care and empathy than those with mental disorders. If someone were to say “get over it” or that “you’re not trying hard enough” to someone with physical disorders, it would be irrational and they would be seen as heartless and insensitive. Whereas it is deemed acceptable to say to someone with mental disorders. This leads to the fact that not as many people make assumptions about physical health than they do about mental health. Mental health is assumed to be something you can easily control or it’s dangerous.
Physical health complaints are taken seriously and have easier access to medical treatment compared to mental health because physical state is of higher importance compared to mental state. When a person has a physical illness alongside with a mental illness, health professionals are more concerned with the physical illness or the professional may not be aware of the mental illness. While mental illness accounts for about 10% of the health issues in Ontario, it receives just “7% of healthcare dollars. Relative to this burden, mental health care in Ontario is underfunded by about $1.5 billion.”