Friday, March 1, 2013

Let's Talk about Stigma on Mental Illness

In the United States, the mental disorder is affecting a significant number of population and is becoming a widespread global burden. The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) estimated that about one in four adults suffers from a diagnosable mental disorder. According to National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), mental illness is a medical condition that disrupts a person's thinking, feeling, mood, ability to relate to others and daily functioning. Here, I am not going to elucidate causes and treatment of mental disorder because it is time to prevent the consequences of hesitancy from accepting mental disorder in the health of patient and sufferings of the family members in dealing with them.
Although it is a type of medical condition like diabetes, heart disease, kidney disease, etc., why we considered mental disorder as an embarrassment? Of course, people are still reluctant to talk openly about the mental illness and accept it like other medical illnesses. In the past, people used to be horrified and ashamed to say that their relative has cancer, now no one thinks cancer is the disease of humiliation. Staff writer of revealed that "we erroneously believed that it had to do with family life or events in one's past and we spend endless hours wondering if, in some mysterious way, they could be responsible for the illness." NAMI further mentioned that the mental illnesses are not the result of personal weakness, lack of character, or poor upbringing. It can affect any group of people in spite of their age, sex, ethnic, religion and socio-economic status. Trondsen mentioned adolescents living with mentally ill parents experienced a variety of challenges related to parent's mental illness, lack of information and openness regarding parent's disease, unpredictability, and instability, fear, loneliness, loss, and sorrow. To manage the challenges related to mentally ill parents, adolescents used different strategies by taking responsibility, taking time out, remaining in emergency alert mode, seeking support from professional and moving away from home.
Hence, it is crucial for us to understand that mental illness is similar to other medical condition, which can be treated by the medication, counseling, self-help groups, assistance with housing, vocational rehabilitation, income assistance and other community services. More importantly, the first step of recovery is to show the readiness for accepting own mental illness and realizing the necessity of treatment. The social stigma of a mental disorder as a devastating disorder need to change.  CMAJ emphasized, "people with mental health issues would likely seek care much sooner if not for the stigma that continues to linger around mental illness." Let's raise awareness to end the stigma of mental disorder. It is time wake up and talk!!
CMAJ. (2013, February). Mental health awareness campaign exposes challenges in combating stigma. Retrieved from
Healthy Place. (2009). Mental illness overview. Retrieved from
National Alliance on Mental Illness.(n.d.). Mental illness. Retrieved from
National Institute of Mental Health. (2013). The numbers count: mental disorders in America. Retrieved from
Trondsen, V. M. (2012). Living with a mentally ill parent: Exploring adolescent’s experiences and perspectives. Qualitative Health Research. 22(2) 174-188. doi: 10.1177/1049732311420736


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