with mental illness constitute 8% of the world's population and a considerable
number of them require support to lead a normal life.
Their health condition,
just like a lot of other disease conditions, are no fault of their's, but the backlash that they receive from
society is severe.
‘Greater awareness and strict laws will ensure that discrimination against mental health patients is prevented, letting them into mainstream society.’
Away From Care
with mental illness that ranges from depression to schizophrenia
, do not
visit the psychiatrist for fear of being branded as a mentally imbalanced person
. Though treatment and care could aid them in leading a normal life, they hesitate to go in for
results in deterioration of their condition, which may have been easier to
treat early on. People associated with mental health patients may then soon
notice erratic or behavior that is out of the ordinary.
Study of Discrimination and Stigma outcomes (INDIGO) interviewed 700 people
with schizophrenia to understand the
stigma they face. This study was conducted by the Institute of Psychiatry,
King's College London along with World Psychiatric Association's (WPA) Global Program Against Stigma and
The INDIGO study found that
Stigma Towards Mental Illness Among University
- 72% felt the diagnosis had to be concealed
- 64% felt that they should not apply for jobs or education fearing discrimination.
- 55% felt they should not look for any close relationship.
In a study conducted by Feeg VD and colleagues
on University students from various disciplines, it was found that stigma
against mental illness was prevalent.
In the study, 309 students were asked to fill in
survey. The results of the study showed that
Stigma in the Labor Market
students were less aware of mental illnesses and were more
prone to stigmatize it
students tend to maintain a greater social distance with people who had
Researchers Hipes C and colleagues, in their
study to understand the stigma of mental illness in the labor market, sent
fictitious job applications to an employer, indicating that the candidate had
- Discrimination against applicants with mental illness.
- The discrimination was irrespective of whether the applicant with mental illness needed to be in close interpersonal contact with the employer.
The shocking and alarming levels of
discrimination that exists in society against people with mental illness is
triggered largely due to the absence of adherence to treatment by patients or complete lack of treatment
. This could lead to potentially violent episodes that increase public skepticism.
Ways to Remove Stigma Against Mental Illness
public's reaction towards mental illness is a major reason why patients stay
away from medical care, as it could lead to their condition becoming known.
a) Read up about Mental Illness
about mental illness, severity and ways to cope will help people understand the
condition better. Moreover, personal experiences and stigma faced by mental
health patients will further aid in breaking the shackles of stigma. Earlier,
mental health problems were associated with superstitious beliefs that included
the notion that such people were 'possessed' by the devil. Instead of routine
treatment, such people received exorcism
b) Respect for People with Mental Illness
People with mental illness should be treated with respect and spoken to with
care. Shouting aloud when speaking to them, making derogatory remarks when they
pass by or avoiding them in public spaces should be prevented.
c) Find Out What They are Good at
Everyone has a special skill or can contribute positively towards society. Help
people with mental illness
understand their strengths and facilitate their entry into the job market. When such people begin contributing to society, they will feel appreciated, triggering positive changes to their mental health.
d) Be Patient
: There may be an instance,
or two (or it may never occur) when a patient with mental illness shows uncontrolled
anger or anxiety, this should not be a reason for further alienation. Instead,
read up about how to react to such situations and remain calm and patient
towards the patient.
e) Drive Hope:
Spread hope among patients as well as caregivers
, so they have something to look forward.
The stigma against people with mental
illness is a scourge in our society and should be weeded out to make it an equal playing field. Awareness
campaigns and stringent laws against discrimination will discourage such stigma
and should be pro-actively supported by governing bodies.
There is increased awareness about the stigma
associated with mental health and some people are consciously looking for a change. The theme for
last year's World Mental Health Day 2015 celebrated on October 10th
was 'Dignity in mental health'
. Let us hope that such awareness campaigns help us in building a more inclusive society.
3. Hipes C, Lucas J, Phelan JC, White RC; "The
stigma of mental illness in the labor market" Social Science Research, Epub
2015 Dec 17
4. Feeg VD, Prager LSoylan LB, Smith KM, Cullinan
M, " Predictors of mental illness stigma and attitudes among college students:
using vignettes from a campus common reading program.", Issue in mental health
Nursing, 2014 Sep