Stigma with Mental Illness

mhh_cartoon-a-thon_2_500

http://mentalhealthhero.com/2009/05/may-2-2009-cartoon-a-thon-for-mental-health-awareness-month/

It seems that everyone today has dealt with issues relating to mental health.  Either a family member, a friend, or you personally have been diagnosed with depression, OCD, or the other multitude of other mental illnesses.  With this being more popular, sometimes it is easy to stop and wonder if you have a mental illness that has not been spotted or diagnosed yet.  According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, 1 in 5 adults in American experience a mental illness, with 1 in 25 adults live with a serious mental illness (https://www.nami.org/NAMI/media/NAMI-Media/Infographics/GeneralMHFacts.pdf).  Have these numbers always been so high and we just haven’t been able to diagnose them, or are psychiatrists and psychologists just unnecessarily diagnosing so that they can sell the prescriptions for whatever mental illness the patient supposedly has?  Is it just for profit?  Or are we so technologically focused today that we aren’t interacting with nature, which has been proven to make humans more relaxed and able to deal with stress?

 

It is true that there is a lot of stigma with mental illness; some people even think it is “all in your head” when you mention depression or ADHD.  Sometimes parents don’t want to believe that their child is “imperfect,” so they ignore the warning signs they see until it is too late.  Yet, even though there are different degrees with mental illness and how severely you can be affected, people are still unaware of how to deal with it.  Just like death, mental illness is something that is not talked about openly.  Probably the one most talked about is PTSD.  There has been so much research on PTSD, and now there are supposedly easy ways to deal with the extreme stresses of it, like SCUBA, parrots, and yoga, according to the New York Times (http://www.nytimes.com/2016/09/18/us/veterans-ptsd-alternative-therapies.html?rref=collection%2Fsectioncollection%2Fhealth&action=click&contentCollection=health&region=rank&module=package&version=highlights&contentPlacement=2&pgtype=sectionfront).  Even though this is true, and it is possibly reverting back from medicalization of dealing with this mental illness, it is not the most prevalent mental illness, with anxiety and depression being much more common.  I am curious as to why these issues are not more prevalent in the media, with only the occasional story on the teenager who committed suicide to bullying (but never because of depression)?  There is far more coverage on physical injuries than mental illness, and I have to wonder why the public is so apprehensive to talk about it and talk about their feelings towards this issue?  How can we make mental illness a priority for more studies to be done and so that it can be addressed in politics?
-Annelise Wilimitis (Blog 3)

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11 thoughts on “Stigma with Mental Illness

  1. I think a lot of the reason why depression and anxiety aren’t as prevalent in the media is because they are still somewhat new diagnoses for a large portion of our population. Our past generations didn’t have the technology to be able to fix these issues, so they were often looked past. Now, we have many techniques to help those with anxiety and depression, whether it be exercise or medication. Also because we have the technology, we don’t here about issues on the media that much because we know that there are ways to prevent people from suffering. We just need better tactics to giving people a comfortable way to confront there acceptance that they actually suffer from anxiety or depression, and show them that it is safe to accept it and solve the issue.

    Andrew Ebding

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    • Andrew,

      I completely agree with your response. My grandmother doesn’t believe that depression and anxiety is an illness. Back in her day it wasn’t talked about, thought of, or mentioned. You only could suffer PTSD and that was about it. SO accepting that mental issues are real and are becoming an issue is hard for older generations. As well as the fact that it seems that it is becoming easier and easier for anyone to be diagnosed with depression and anxiety, so how can the illness be taken serious if everyone has it?

      Shayla Ford

      Liked by 1 person

      • Shayla,

        I wanted to take a second to pose another thought onto your question, “how can the illness be taken serious if everyone has it?”. Relating back to the post, and because of the fact that mental illness is becoming more prevalent and easier to diagnose it sort or then backs up the question posed in the post: “is it all just for profit?”. Of course, mental illness is completely valid and real, but are doctors stretching diagnosis to benefit an industry?

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    • Andrew,
      That makes sense that since mental illness is new that there would be less resources. I wonder why there hasn’t been more research on it now, though. And, if you are saying that we have ways to fix it and and prevent suffering as the reason for it not being in the media, then you are cancelling out your first argument that it is new and there hasn’t been much research on it.

      Shayla,
      I am wondering if since a lot of people would now have it, that it would be more of a concern than if it was a rare case. Like diabetes now being the focus of studies instead of a random disease that hardly anyone has heard of. Just a thought!

      Annelise Wilimitis

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  2. Your post was fascinating especially on the alternate therapies being used for people such as PTSD. I used to work for a riding clinic that used horse back riding as therapy technique for people with both physical and mental disabilities. There, I never felt like one was treated more or less then the other, something affecting the mind could be the same or worse as something physical. We would try and help in every way we could knowing there was only a point to which we could. I feel like I had a first hand experience of working with people with mental illnesses though whereas many people haven’t had this chance and so like anything new they simply don’t know how to act or react to people they don’t see as normal.

    ~Asha Brogan

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    • I understand your comment completely, and it is true that once you have that exposure, you are more sensitive and comfortable with it. I wonder how we can bridge these experiences of ours to people who have not been able to have an encounter with mental illness and make people see that it is a real problem?

      Annelise Wilimitis

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  3. You made some good points in your post and I believe that this is an extremely important issue. The main problem with mental illness, as you stated, is the varying severity. I think that many people discount some mental illnesses (like ADHD, depression) because when they think of these illnesses, they only think of the extremes. Some people experience extremely severe ADHD that is obvious from simple observation, and diagnosis of anything less than this is seen as illegitimate. It needs to be understood that not all mental illness manifest in ways that are obvious to outsiders, and just because it may not be as severe as it could be, does not mean that it is not still present.

    However, I think that many people know of individuals that have abused the difficult process of diagnosing mental illnesses to receive certain prescription drugs like adderall. The prevalence of these abuses of the system are at the root of the stigma surrounding mental illness and unfortunately it is an extremely difficult thing to prevent. Like most things, the best way to prevent misunderstandings or misconceptions about mental illness is education.

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  4. I think mental illness should always be taken seriously. It is always hard to say how severe each case is without an appropriate evaluation by a mental health doctor. Many times people will just get prescribed immediately.
    Collectively, I think doctors do play a major role in the increase of medications like adderall and anti-depressants, but there are still many people who need treatment that aren’t getting it; I think it’s hard to make a stance one way or the other. I think if the financial relationship between doctors and pharmaceutical companies was severed, then we may see a drop in these numbers, or at least a change in the approach of aiding the patient.

    Katie McNulty

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  5. This is such an interesting topic to be discussed. I agree so many mental illnesses are treated so different than they should. I also think that mental illnesses should be treated like a sick patient is at a hospital. It is a very important topic to discuss and definitely something the healthcare career can improve on.
    Lauren Reinhard

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  6. Totally agree with this topic. So many people that are struggling with depression and anxiety and are so quite about their mental battle. Some might be just to embarrassed to admit they are struggling or don’t want to concern anyone with their issues. I personalty feel that if more people were open to the public about their struggle it would become much easier to deal with it. I think that if more people came out about their issue you would find yourself more comfortable to seek help as well as realizing that these issues are more conmanly experienced than one might think.

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