According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), stigma is “when someone, or even you yourself, views a person in a negative way just because they have a mental health condition”. Stigma has the propensity to cause bullying, internalization, stifled recovery, suicide, and more. Mental health stigmas are caused by lack of understanding and awareness. NAMI further states that the isolation, blame, and secrecy perpetuated by stigma can further cause individuals to refrain from seeking help. In turn, this creates a negative cycle of abuse.
People who experience stigma often feel diminished, devalued, and fearful because of the negative attitude that society has towards them. Individuals with a mental disorder are often already experiencing unwanted or unpleasant symptoms of their disorder including intrusive thoughts, obsessive checking or other obsessive-related behaviors, and more. Some people with mental disorders think differently than others, which can further cause the individual to feel isolated.
A 2015 study titled “Sources and components of stigma experienced by survivors of intimate partner violence” explained the five main components that stigma is comprised of:
- Blame – Individuals may be blamed or viewed as responsible for the way they are treated.
- Discrimination – Individuals may be treated differently than others due to their mental illness.
- Loss of status – Some people may be removed from status positions once it is known they have a mental illness; additionally, some may be viewed as “less than” once their mental illness is known.
- Isolation – Individuals may be treated as separate from others because they have a mental illness.
- Shame – Individuals may internalize the hatred they experienced, or they may experience feelings of guilt, embarrassment, or secrecy surrounding the topic of their mental illness.
Stigma begins and ends with us as people. Will we continue to produce and perpetuate hate, or we will make the active decision to educate ourselves and others of the reality of mental illnesses? Will we choose to support and uplift our fellow neighbors and citizens of our community, or will we further neglect and separate them? Making the choice to act on stigma can be as easy as making that decision that, for yourself, you will no longer tolerate hateful comments and will continue to educate yourself and others.
If you are seeking a recovery center that will support you every step of the way, call us today at 888-316-3665. New Vista Behavioral Health is home to several California state-licensed, world-renowned mental health and addiction recovery treatment centers. Our licensed, experienced professionals truly care about your success and well-being, and will work with you to develop the tools you need to overcome your challenges. Call us for a consultation today.