Getting Rid of Mental Health Stigma
Mental health issues are an integral part of overall health. Mental health problems are not limited to any particular age category, racial group or geographical location. Mental illness affects all people everywhere.
In the United States alone, approximately one quarter of all adults and 20 percent of all children will experience some form of mental illness this year. Nonetheless, very few of those affected will actually seek out help for their condition.
Fear of stigma and insufficient finances probably explain why the vast majority of sufferers go untreated.
Although it is not always a minority who look for mental health services, it seems that Hispanics and African-Americans are more reluctant than most. This is not only because they have less disposable income and are generally less insured, but also because mental illness still carries a strong stigma in those subcultures.
Studies reveal that many who recognize they need help would rather take medication than undergo counseling and it is believed that this trend is based on fear of being stigmatized. Despite its prevalence, mental illness continues to be perceived as a personal failure.
One online article which appeared in a well-known psychology publication explored how understanding the difference between mental health and mental illness might be a first step toward getting rid of the mental health stigma.
The article explained that mental health is a positive understanding of personal capabilities and the presence of coping skills which enhance functionality. Mental illness, on the other hand, describes changes in mood, thinking and/or behavior which impair a person’s ability to function.
As the article explained, helping people to recognize the similarities between mental health well-care and physical well-care could open the door to greater public acceptance of mental health services.