Did you know May is Mental Health Awareness month?
Although mental health treatments have had great advances, many individuals who may benefit from such services do not seek out these interventions. One reason is stigma towards mental health. Mental health stigma can consist of social stigma and self-stigma. Social stigma represents the discrimination and prejudice directed towards people with mental health problems while self-stigma occurs when individuals internalize these prejudicial attitudes and discriminating behavior (Corrigan, 2005).
Stigmatizing beliefs about mental health are held by a variety of individuals, even family members of individuals with a mental health illness. In a study examining stigma directed at adolescents with mental health problems, Moses (2010) found that 46% of adolescents experienced stigma from family members, 62% from peers, and 35% from school staff. Stigma matters as it can not only influence an individual’s quality of life in a negative manner, but also adversely affect treatment outcomes. Research has shown that stigma is correlated with increased social isolation and poorer employment success (Yanos, Roe, & Lysaker, 2010).
As mental health awareness and knowledge have increased, the reduction of mental health stigma can further contribute to mental health care. Some proposed ways to fight mental health stigma include (NAMI, 2015):
- Educate self and others about mental health
- Question and push back against how individuals with mental health problems are portrayed in the media
- Talk openly about mental health issues
- Explain mental illness in a similar manner as any other illness
- Advocate for mental health reform
- Love and respect individuals living with a mental health condition
Corrigan P. W. (2005). On the stigma of mental illness: Practical strategies for research and social change. Washington DC: American Psychological Association.
Moses, T. (2010). Being treated differently: Stigma experiences with family, peers, and school staff among adolescents with mental health disorders. Social Science & Medicine, 70(7), 985-993.
National Alliance on Mental Illness (2015). 9 Ways to Fight Mental Health Stigma. Retrieved from http://www.nami.org/Blogs/NAMI-Blog/October-2015/9-Ways-to-Fight-Mental-Health-Stigma
Yanos, P. T., Roe, D., & Lysaker, P. H. (2010). The impact of illness identity on recovery from severe mental illness. American Journal of Psychiatric Rehabilitation, 13(2), 73-93.
Kathy L. Lin, B.A., is a second-year graduate student in Miami University’s Clinical Psychology program. She works in the Culture, Affect, Relationships (CARE) Lab and her research interests consist of examining body image within a cultural context, looking at how body image may be impacted by cultural influences and perceptions.