Although there is an increased awareness about mental disorders, social stigma is still present in the society today. What is social stigma? It is negative stereotype (prejudice and discrimination) against people with mental health illnesses. The first thing which comes to some people’s mind when they hear about someone with mental disorder is that the person must be dangerous, regardless of whether the person is a family or friend. This is a serious misconception which should be banished because not everyone with mental disorders are dangerous and instead, they are more prone to becoming victims of violence.
The presence of such social discrimination brings negative effect to people with mental illnesses. Almost 9 out of 10 people with mental illnesses indicate that stigma and discrimination adversely impact their lives. To avoid being mislabeled as insane, these people do not seek advice or treatment from healthcare providers and instead, they continue pretending to be fine on the outside while secretly struggling with their illnesses. This is because they are afraid of being discriminated when they choose to be honest about their mental disorders.
Besides, there is a high risk of being unemployed if people with mental disorders choose to be upfront with employers about their mental health problems. Employers are reserved about hiring people with mental health problems due to certain considerations such as inability to cope with job demands, prolonged absence, inability to work in team. Hence, even if employees are facing any mental health problem, there is high possibility that they will not want to share it with employers in order to keep their jobs and to not be discriminated at workplace. However, there may be benefits of employing people with mental illnesses and one of them includes high commitment to their jobs. This is because mentally ill people know that it is very difficult for them to get a job, therefore, if they are provided an opportunity to work, they may be committed to it.
Social isolation is also another significant reason why people are not willing to seek treatments. People with mental health problems may even be discriminated against by their friends and family. Therefore, people with mental illnesses are fearful and worried about how others will perceive them if they were to be frank about their mental health problems and seek treatments. They choose to be quiet about their sufferings in order to not be looked at and treated differently.
Compared to the mental illness itself, the presence of such social stigma actually causes more harm to people with these mental illnesses. People with mental health problems fear to seek treatment because they worry that there will be a lot of long-term negative impacts on their lives. Hence, to ensure that people with mental health issues have the courage to talk about their problems and to seek treatment, the message that being mentally ill is not an embarrassment must be widely spread in the society. All of us play a part in increasing awareness regarding mental health issues and we should stop discriminating and start showing support to people with mental health problems.