Stigma is described as a mark of dishonour that distinguishes a person from the rest of society. Unfortunately, the stigma associated with mental illness leads to feelings of guilt, discomfort, and a reluctance to seek treatment. According to research:
- 3 out of every 4 people who suffer from a mental illness have faced stigma.
- 1 out of every 4 people is regarded Depression as a sign of weakness.
- 1 out of every 5 people admits that they would hide their depression from others if they were suffering from it.
Myths About Mental Illness That Lead To Social Stigma
“Teens who attempt to kill themselves must be insane,” is a misconception that we’ve all heard and, more than likely, perpetuated. It is all too common for us to use insulting words like “crazy” (or even more offensive terms such as “nuts,” “mad,” or “psycho”) in our regular interactions, which makes this misconception extremely problematic:
- The large majority of those who commit suicide (about 90 percent) were suffering from an underlying mental disease – most typically depression – or a substance misuse problem at the time of their deaths; this does not imply that they were “crazy.”
- Approximately 10% of all suicidal individuals are suffering from psychosis, or have erroneous beliefs about the nature of reality. Again, this does not imply that such persons are “crazy,” but rather that they are profoundly mentally sick and in desperate need of assistance.
- Labeling someone as “psycho” causes them to feel ashamed, which may lead them to postpone seeking help for very genuine health problems. People avoid getting professional care because they are afraid of being labelled as “psycho” which can help them recover from depression and reduce their risk of suicide.
It’s important to remember that millions of people who suffer from depression never attempt to take their lives. Suicide is most likely to occur when persons suffering from depression begin to feel hopeless and powerless, and when their agony outweighs their ability to cope with the pain they are experiencing.
Speaking of hopelessness and helplessness, consider this myth: “Teens who are suicidal don’t want help — they never seek or ask for help.”
Reasons Why This Is Untrue
- It was found that nearly half of those who committed suicide gotten help from their primary care physician within a month of their death.
- Teens will reach out to their peers or trustworthy adults who demonstrate an interest in listening to their concerns. However, we should not make the assumption that discussing suicide thoughts is simple or that it is natural. Understanding and compassion are required in order to initiate this discourse. Then we need to assist those persons in connecting with appropriate professional services.
- The idea that all teenagers are moody and cannot suffer from “true depression” prevents a comprehensive knowledge of this mental condition, which can have a negative impact on many aspects of one’s life, including relationships, academics, health, and overall mood.
- Teens who are suicidal may not know where to begin or may believe that nothing would help them – a “tunnel vision” can accompany despair that can become so severe that everything, even the idea of receiving treatment, appears bleak to them.
- A common concern among adolescents is the fear of being dismissed as “crazy,” “sinful,” “manipulated,” or “stupid,” as well as the fear of being rejected by their peers and punished by adults in their lives if they attempt to seek help.
How Each Of Us May Play A Part In Preventing The Spread Of Stigma
- Saying someone is “crazy” is a verbal abuse. The term “crazy” isn’t an accurate description of someone’s actions, therefore don’t use it to describe them.
- It is important to have accurate knowledge regarding mental illness, which you should disseminate to others.
- Take a stand when your friends and family are perpetuating anti-depressant and anti-suicide beliefs.
- If your teen is experiencing depression or suicide thoughts, offer them your unconditional support.
- Talk about mental illness honestly, even if it’s your own. If you are able to do so, it will motivate others to do the same and break the taboo that mental illness should be kept secret.
- Even if your children seem to be doing well, it’s a good idea to sit down with them and discuss their feelings and coping mechanisms for life’s challenges. This sends a message that talking about difficult times and emotional difficulties is OK.
As long as we all help, we can live in a world where people with mental illnesses don’t have to hide from getting the help they need. Suicide Watch And Wellness Foundation