Clinical Psychology and Psychotherapy
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Eliminating the Stigma of Mental Illness Through Breaking the Silence

Eliminating the Stigma of Mental Illness Through Breaking the Silence

Loula Koteass insight:

Eliminating the Stigma of Mental Illness Through Breaking the Silence

 

Mental illness and I are no strangers. I am a clinical psychologist, therefore, I deal with mental illness in my work on a daily basis. However, I also have the challenge of confronting mental illness in my own family. Truth be told, no one ever spoke about it as I was growing up because of the stigma associated with mental illness. Those who suffer from mental illness or who have people they care for suffering from mental illness know that the stigma attached to the disease is as painful as the disease itself.

 

Mental health issues are something that many families deal with and it can be a relief to know that other people suffer from them as well, but that can only happen if people start talking about it more openly . If there is more light shed on mental illness through healthy conversation rather than hushed tones - the fear ,embarrassment and misconceptions of mental illness will stop.

 

The silence is what contributes to the toxity of the stigma and the misconceptions developed through the silence and false portrayals of mentally ill people as psycopaths in movies . These misconceptions lead people to refer to people suffering from mental illness as “crazy”, “nuts”, or “psycho”. Consequently, preventing people from openly discussing their illness.

Saying you have a mental illness... people in general, your friends and family, even the stigma in your own mind, will think “you're crazy”, “you have no self-control”, “you cannot function normally within society”, “ you're weak”, “ you can't be trusted on the job”, etc.

Nothing can be further from the truth! Stigma is a toxic deathly hazard which must be eliminated!

 

Mental illness is an illness of the brain. The brain is an organ that can get sick just like any other organ of the body. Like most diseases of the body, it has many causes-from genetics to other biological, environmental and social/cultural factors. And just as with most diseases, mental illnesses are noone's fault.

 

The unusual behaviors associated with mental illness are symptoms of the disease - not the cause. Most importantly, mental illnesses are treatable through medication and psychotherapy. And luckily, most people are not treatment resistant, thus, allowing those who suffer from mental illness the opportunity to lead full productive lives.

 

According to WHO (World Health Organisation) 1 in 6 adults and 1 in 10 children suffer from a diagnosable mental illness, including depression, bipolar disorder, PTSD (post-traumatic-stress -disorder), anxiety, and schizophrenia. Furthermore, WHO claims that by the year 2020 mental illness will be the second cause of death and disability. Yet, for many, the stigma associated with the illness, can be as great a challenge as the disease itself. Talking about it will stop the misconceptions and eventually bring the bias to an end.

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