STIGMA AND MENTAL ILLNESS
IMPLICATIONS OF STIGMA AND MENTAL ILLNESS
Mental health is an area many people are uncomfortable with. American’s are suspicious of individuals who tend to appear mentally ill. It creates fear and presents the unknown; therefore, stigma. Stigma is defined as disgrace and discredit, which lead to devaluation of an individual. This devaluation creates significant barriers for those who are the target of social discrimination due to their mental state, such as isolation, fear and shame.
Mental illness affects not only the mentally ill individual, but could also their family and friends creating discrimination and disadvantages for them as well, also referred to as “courtesy stigma”.
Society can gain a better understanding and reduce the stigma of mental illness through education and understanding that mental health disorders are chemical malfunctions in the brain, and are equally as real as physical disorders that are physically visible.