Social Stigma In Mental Health Care

Superior Essays
In February of this year I was given the label of ‘depressive disorder not otherwise specified.’ Due to this diagnosis I also received the assumptions from friends and family that because I am labelled as depressed it must mean I want to commit suicide or that I am simply over-dramatic with my emotions. It seemed like everyone’s new most popular phrase became that “I seem so generally happy, I have a wonderful family and friend group, how was I in any way depressed?” The newfound diagnosis also had me feeling like I had to continuously seem a certain way to be considered a depressed individual in order to receive the help or respect that I needed at the time. 6.8 of the 34 people in our classroom are affected by mental health problems according …show more content…
Social stigma in a mental health sense can be characterized by prejudicial attitudes and discriminating behavior directed towards individuals as a result of the psychiatric label they have been given. The subject of mental health carries an unspoken weight in our world and oftentimes can seem threatening or uncomfortable, and these feelings frequently foster stigma and discrimination towards people with mental health problems. Mentally ill people are often viewed as crazy, morally bad, dangerous, irresponsible, and so on as part of social stigma. A lot of these assumptions are due to anosognosia which is a lack of insight into mental illness (“Why Don’t People Get Help for Mental Illness?”). There are indeed individuals that can be morally bad or dangerous though the vast majority of people who are violent do not suffer from mental illnesses (American Psychiatric Association, 1994). Only a small proportion of the violence in our society can be attributed to persons who are mentally ill (Mulvey, 1994). Diagnostic labels not only change the reputation of an individual but also alter how an individual is treated. “The label [of a diagnosis] itself becomes self-fulfilling and can bias the way clinicians and the public see the person” (Kennard). Mental health stigma can cause people to feel ashamed for something that is out of their control and prevents many …show more content…
The entire ordeal of social stigma with mental illness and a possibly mistaken label can be related to someone labelled as a “nerd” throughout their high school years. That individual may begin to think of themselves as a loser due to other people’s opinions and treatment. Someone who has been stigmatized usually has lower self esteem and may even behave more deviantly as a result of the negative label. The stigmatized person may find it easier to come to terms with the label rather than fight it. The behavior change is an example of the many possible psychological effects that acquiring a mental health diagnosis can result in. Individuals often become the label they are burdened with versus being a real person who is simply suffering from an illness. Individuals may end up unintentionally encouraging social stigma. “Diagnostic labels protect them from self-blame and can help defuse charges of laziness or stupidity leveled by teachers, parents, or peers. Diagnostic labels allow some children to reattribute their difficulties to the diagnosis instead of blaming themselves (“Just a Label?”).” “Even the patient can fall into the trap of behaving in ways they think are expected of them (Kennard).” Psychiatric diagnostic labels affect an individual’s behavior and performance in a highly calamitous

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