Stigma in mental health
If you ever got diagnosed of some mental illness today, chances are that you will suffer stigma more than the condition itself. Stigma and discrimination, has become synonymous with mental illness today.
Stigma leaves persons living with some mental health conditions experiences and feelings of shame, self guilt, hopelessness, persistent anxiety, isolation, misrepresentation in the media, and reluctance to seek and/or accept necessary help. Approximately 75% of people with a mental illness report that they have experienced stigma.
In fact, according to a study published in the Journal of Health and Social Behavior:
- 38% of people do not want to move next door to someone who lives with mental illness.
- 56% do not want to spend an evening socializing with someone with mental illness.
- 33% do not want to make friends with someone who lives with mental illness.
- 58% do not want to work closely with someone with mental illness.
- 68% do not want someone with mental illness to marry into their family.
1. Know the facts.
Educate yourself about mental health problems. Learn the facts instead of the myths. Visiting our website is a great place to start!
2. Be aware of your attitudes and behaviour
We’ve all grown up with prejudices and judgmental thinking. But we can change the way we think! See people as unique human beings, not as labels or stereotypes. See the person beyond their mental illness; they have many other personal attributes that do not disappear just because they also have a mental illness.
3. Choose your words carefully
The way we speak can affect the way other people think and speak. Don’t use hurtful or derogatory language.
4. Educate others
Find opportunities to pass on facts and positive attitudes about people with mental health problems. If your friends, family, co-workers or even the media present information that is not true, challenge their myths and stereotypes. Let them know how their negative words and incorrect descriptions affect people with mental health problems by keeping alive the false ideas.
5. Focus on the positive
People with mental health and substance use problems make valuable contributions to society. Their health problems are just one part of who they are. We’ve all heard the negative stories. Let’s recognize and applaud the positive ones.
6. Support people
Treat people who have mental health problems with dignity and respect. Think about how you’d like others to act toward you if you were in the same situation. If you have family members, friends or co-workers with substance use or mental health problems, support their choices and encourage their efforts to get well.
7. Include everyone
Ghana’s mental health law (Act 846) prohibits employers and people who provide services to discriminate against people with mental health and substance use problems. Denying people access to things such as jobs, housing and health care, which the rest of us take for granted, violates human rights.
People with mental health and substance use problems have a right to take an equal part in society. Let’s make sure that happens.
8. Talking openly of your own experience of mental illness: the more hidden mental illness remains, the more people continue to believe that it is shameful and needs to be concealed