The Stigma Of Mental Illness

1284 Words 6 Pages
Mental illness has been a hot topic in recent news. From Sandy Hook to the Aurora movie theatre shooting, effects of mental illness has sparked fierce debate and a negative stigma surrounding the issue. However, only 59.6% of individuals with a mental illness report receiving treatment, as often those with mental disorders are seen as “dangerous, unpredictable, responsible for their illness, or incompetent” (Corrigan, Druss, and Perlick). With so much riding on the issue, a question needs to be addressed: to what extent does stigma surrounding mental illness affect the way patients are treated in health care and society? To explore the effects of stigma surrounding mental illness, it is essential to first understand the science behind mental …show more content…
“Brain Basics” is a public awareness initiative by the National Institute of Mental Health, a part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. According to “Brain Basics”, neurons are specialized to pass on messages onto the next in order for us to function. When a neuron receives a signal, an electrical impulse travels down the axon to terminal branches at the end of the cell (Myers 56). From here, neurons send messages across the synapse, the junction between neurons, onto the next through chemical messengers called neurotransmitters (“Brain Basics”). Once this process is done, the sending neuron absorbs excess neurotransmitters in a process called reuptake (Myers 55). Many different types of neurotransmitters influence behavior. For example, neurotransmitter serotonin helps to control mood, appetite, and sleep, while dopamine is linked to thought, emotion, and pleasure (“Brain …show more content…
According to “The Impact of Mental Illness Stigma on Seeking and Participating in Mental Health Care”, only 59.6% of people with mental illness report receiving treatment. Since mental illness’ stigma can lead to active discrimination, such as exclusion from employment, social, or educational opportunities, people often do not seek out care they need (Corrigan, Druss, and Perlick). The article then goes on to describe structural stigma, a disparity found in social and institutional policies, which limits amount of care given to people who even actively seek it. This argument of the problem of social stigma is further corroborated by Liz Szabo’s article “Cost of Not Caring.” While this article has a definite bias, as it is extremely argumentative about increasing parity for mental illness, it goes into the specifics of people affected by mental illness in a stigmatized world. According to Szabo, the ubiquitous stigma forged the format of the Medicaid law 50 years ago when Congress thought supporting mental illness would be a waste of federal money. This has continued even today, where this “failure to provide treatment and supportive services to people with mental illness… has overburdened emergency rooms, crowded state and local jails and left untreated patients to fend for themselves on city streets” (Szabo). She then states that on average people with mental illness wait for about

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