Overcoming Stigmas Related to Mental Health
05 Jan 2023
Stigmas and stereotypes can profoundly impact people struggling with mental health and substance use disorder (SUD). Some individuals or families may hesitate to seek help because they fear being judged by their community. According to the Journal of Family Medicine and Primary Care, "Stigma associated with mental illnesses is one of the principal causes for mentally ill people not receiving adequate mental health care and treatment." Samarpan reduces stigmas and misinformation by educating people about the realities of mental health and providing evidence-based treatment programs.
What Causes Stigmas and Stereotypes?
Misinformation, misconceptions, and prejudice can cause people to judge others for differences in behaviour, ability, or belief. Individuals with severe or more visible symptoms often face greater discrimination. Members of the community, families, and even some healthcare providers can make decisions based on stigmas and stereotypes. The impact has caused significant emotional distress, perpetuated fear, and inspired ignorance. In addition, it causes the most vulnerable people to lose trust in their communities and healthcare providers.
Some dangerous side effects of stigmas and stereotypes include:
- Hate crimes against people with mental health disorders
- Neglect, abuse, or exploitation by family members or the community
- Severe illness, injury, or death caused by a lack of treatment, support, and resources
Self-stigma is also something that stops people from getting the care they need. Many people feel too scared or embarrassed to tell loved ones or healthcare providers about possible signs of mental health disorders. Often they wait until things reach a point where it affects their ability to function. Treatment programs help clients overcome any negative self-image they may have internalized due to social stigma or discriminatory treatment.
The Dangers of Discrimination
Discrimination can lead to unfair treatment and cause people with SUD or mental health issues to develop more severe symptoms or co-occurring disorders. According to Healthcare Management Forum, "Mental illness-related stigma, including that which exists in the healthcare system and among healthcare providers, creates serious barriers to access and quality care." Without access to adequate and relevant treatments, some people may experience severe symptoms and side effects that decrease their quality of life.
Healthcare professionals and community-based mental health services are ethically obligated to counter misinformation, stigmas, and stereotypes related to medical conditions and treatment. The only way to reduce the danger is to acknowledge the problem and find ways to educate families and individuals.
Discrimination can cause the following:
- Breakdown in communication
- Unrealistic expectations
- Low self-worth and decreased self-efficacy
Samarpan prioritizes educating people about how their beliefs, actions, and language choices can harm individuals in recovery. Everyone has an opportunity to help eradicate the stigmas and discrimination that remain prevalent. Healthcare professionals and families can impact how their communities discuss mental health by sharing their experiences.
How Samarpan Reduces Mental Health Stigmas
Every program at Samarpan provides support services that educate and inform clients and their families about mental health. We use in-person and online sessions to discuss how every person in the client's life influences their recovery. Every week our clients will have facilitated sessions with their family members. Those moments can provide essential context for loved ones who may not understand how mental health treatment works. We also offer support services during continuing care to help individuals and families find healthy ways to cope with community stigmas and misinformation.
Overcoming Social Judgement During Recovery
Being judged by the general public or close family and friends can destabilize people in recovery. Samarpan provides a judgment-free space where people can come to heal and find healthy ways to manage their condition. Clients can rely on their care team to support their recovery, even when they feel overwhelmed or ambivalent because of social pressures.
People can protect themselves from social stigmas by doing the following:
- Educating themselves and the people around them
- Being kind to themselves
- Practicing regular self-care
- Establishing clear boundaries
Clients in recovery can use family involvement in treatment to limit the pain caused by social stigmas. People often feel more comfortable and safe when their family members support their recovery.
How Can You Stop the Spread of Stigmas?
Everyone can take action to stop the spread of stigmas by doing the following:
- Contradicting any stigmas or misinformation with facts and reliable sources
- Remaining calm and collected in the face of discrimination instead of becoming emotional and defensive
- Educating oneself and local communities about the realities of addiction, mental health, and recovery
- Not tolerating stigmas, stereotyping, or discrimination within your personal space
The Words People Use Matter
Language is an essential part of how people connect with one another, and it can influence shared beliefs. According to the U.S. National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), "[U]sing appropriate language to describe mental illness and addiction can help to reduce stigma and improve how people with these conditions are treated in health care settings and throughout society." Samarpan offers evidence-based treatment programs and education to ensure clients and their families have a foundation of knowledge they can use to counteract stigmas, stereotypes, and discrimination.
Stigmas and stereotypes can have a severe negative effect on anyone with substance use or mental health disorders. Family, friends, and care facilities can all take steps to educate the people within their circle of influence to combat stigmas and misinformation. If left unaddressed, stigmas can lead to discrimination and the unfair treatment of vulnerable people in need of professional help. Self-stigma is another challenge in recovery that Samarpan can help clients overcome with therapy and other treatments. We believe that everyone deserves to be treated with respect, kindness, and compassion. To learn more about our programs and our work to educate communities, call us today at +91 81809 19090.