Stigma Around Mental Health

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There are many common mental health disorders. Such as depression, generalised anxiety disorder, panic disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), social anxiety disorder, and many more.

Mental disorders may affect up to 15% of the population at any one time. (National Institutes of Health). The stigma around mental health should be changed. It is believed by few that mental health issues are made up to gain attention or empathy, thus it has been proven that mental illnesses are neurologically based, mental health terminology is misused, and mental disorders are subject to judgement.

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Mental illness is neurologically based. “A mental illness can be defined as a health condition that changes a person’s thinking, feelings, or behavior (or all three) and that causes the person distress and difficulty in functioning.” (National Institutes of Health). Each disorder changes how people, think, feel, and act. They are distinct to each disorder.

Scientists estimate that one out of every four people are affected by mental illnesses in some way (National Institutes of Health). Mental illnesses result from miscommunication between neurons in the brain, also known as neurotransmission. Lower levels of serotonin in the neurotransmitter are common in individuals who have depression. This information helped to find medication for these disorders. Selective `serotonin reuptake inhibitors, or SSRIs, work by reducing the amount of serotonin that is taken back into the presynaptic neuron. This increases the amount of serotonin available in the space where the receptor binds onto the postsynaptic neuron. Changes in neurotransmitters, other than serotonin, may occur in depression. This is why this disease and its solvents are so complex (National Institutes of Health). Mental illnesses are due to chemical imbalances in the brain that can be improved with help from medications known as SSRIs.

Mental health terminology is misused and have a significant impact on the stigma toward mental health and on the individuals who suffer from mental health disorders. There is a difference between feeling sad and be depressed (Shield Media).

Many people misuse Mental illness terminology to describe emotions and feelings. A main reason for this misemployment of terms can be due to the lack of education around the topic.’There is not enough awareness of mental disorders or the effects of this type of language,’ said Dr. Jessica Matchynski, assistant professor of psychology. ‘Although most people (and I would bet all of us) know someone with a mental disorder, current stigmas often prevent us from talking about it.’ (Shield Media).

Names of disorders are are nothing more than descriptions given by doctors. When people use them outside of their meanings, it causes a negative connotation around the words. The negative association of these disorders, discourages those who need help from seeking it. ‘People just throw these phrases and disorders around without a thought about how they affect the people who suffer from them,’ said senior Codie Myers (Shield Media).

Mental disorders are subject to judgement from society. Many patients not only have to cope with the often devastating effects of their illness, but also suffer from social exclusion and prejudices.

In the middle ages any type of mental health disorder was seen as a punishment from God. Sufferers were thought to be possessed by the devil and were burned at the stake, or thrown in penitentiaries and madhouses where they were chained to the walls or their beds. During the Nazi reign, 100,000’s were murdered because of mental health disorders such as schizophrenia or autism. (Rössler, Wulf) In today’s society, illness is used to describe a whole person. Although we no longer imprison, burn or kill the mentally ill as in the Middle Ages or Nazi reign, our social standards and attitudes are nonetheless unworthy of modern welfare states. Structural discrimination of the mentally ill is still pervasive, whether in legislation or in rehabilitation efforts.

Some believe that all mental illnesses are made up. They claim that people label themselves to get attention or pity. Some reasons are; people who are trying to get attention post ‘bait posts’, when its convienent their disorders subside, and they use illnesses as excuses (Shelly). While some may make up mental disorders, not every diagnosis is made up. Neurological science proves their accusations wrong. Mental disorders are brain disorders. They have been proven to start in the brain and are made up from chemical imbalances. Scientists from Duke University, “…found that risk of mental illness increases when the visual cortex struggles to communicate with brain networks responsible for focus and introspection.”

The stigma of mental disorders needs to be changed. Right now, mental illness is surrounded with negative connotation and judgement. This is due to the lack of education around the subject and misuse of disorder titles. In conclusion, more education on mental disorders could end the negative stigma surrounding them

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Stigma Around Mental Health. (2022, Apr 20). Retrieved from

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