Imagine a world where people don’t have to worry about who they are or how they look, where they can sleep soundly at night without worrying about feeling judged. That is what mental health is. It’s when your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors aren’t in turmoil. It’s when you don’t have extreme anxiety, stress, and depression. It’s a dream that many have, but for too many people, it never comes true.
Mental illnesses are still stigmatized, even though more and more research is starting to reveal what mental illness really is. Mental health disorders affect one in every five Americans every year, with the most common being depression. But is the stigma surrounding mental health changing? In short, yes. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, the conversation about mental illness is finally starting to change. Now, people talk about mental health issues like they would talk about any other physical health issue.
How can prejudice and humiliation influence those who have mental health issues?
Stigma and discrimination have real effects on individuals with mental health disorders, especially as they get older. Research by the World Health Organization showed that just 10% of adults with a mental disorder receive treatment, and some of that stems from stigma and discrimination. Here are three ways stigma and discrimination affect individuals with mental disorders and what you can do to help combat them.
Why should many people who have mental health issues face discrimination?
People with mental health problems are disproportionately unemployed, underemployed, and living in poverty. For those living with severe mental illness, the barriers to employment can be even greater. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration reports that 27 percent of adults in the U.S. with a mental illness are unemployed, compared to 15 percent of the general population. The unemployment rate for people with serious, persistent mental illness is 40 percent, compared to 16 percent for the general population.
I’m being discriminated against – what can I do?
Being discriminated against by your employer, school, or government body can make you feel humiliated and hurt. Your legal rights must be honored, and there’s help available to keep you from getting further victimized. This article explains how you can take steps to protect your rights when you’ve been discriminated against.
Discrimination is an unfortunate reality in today’s society. From being treated differently in hiring, to being outcasted, to outright bullying, discrimination is something we all face at one time or another. But discrimination is not always so blatant; sometimes, that subtle sting of rejection, exclusion, or feeling unwelcome can turn us into angry, resentful, and bitter people. This behavior hurts not only ourselves but the people around us, too.
Being discriminated against is a common occurrence in the workplace. In fact, a 2019 study from Out Right Action International reported that 1 in 5 lesbians, gay, bisexual, or transgender (LGBT) employees experience discrimination at work. And according to a 2017 study by the Center for American Progress, 49% of LGBT employees reported experiencing harassment at work. While discrimination is illegal, it’s unfortunately difficult to prove. And filing a lawsuit can take months, if not years.
Harmful Effects of Stigma and Discrimination
Stigma and discrimination are undoubtedly negative, but both of these can be damaging nonetheless. The stigma of mental illness affects everyone and people with mental illnesses tend to suffer more from societal prejudices, and people with physical illnesses or disabilities often feel alienated from society. Discrimination, on the other hand, comes less from societal prejudices and is more directly abusive or harmful. Some forms of discrimination, such as racism and homophobia, are illegal, but others, such as disability discrimination, are not. Stigma and discrimination are two main issues that go hand in hand with addiction. Because of the negative stigma, many people with addiction prefer to hide it and suffer in silence. They try to hide their symptoms and hide their addiction from loved ones. However, many people with addiction feel alone and ashamed.
Discrimination can be detrimental to anyone, but for people with addiction, it makes them more susceptible to developing mental health issues such as depression and anxiety. The mental health effects are often worse than the physical ones, and there are many people who are able to overcome addiction if they can get treatment.
Mental health is still stigmatized, and people are all too eager to label people with mental illnesses as unstable, weak, and in need of treatment. On the contrary, mental health disorders are just like any other medical condition, they are simply misunderstood. Mental illness is a real thing and not something to be ashamed of or shunned.