Stigma Against Individuals With Mental Illness

3673 words - 15 pages

One big issue in the world right now is stigma against individuals with mental illness. One may ask, “What is stigma?” “Stigma” is one of those words one hears a lot, but if one was asked to define it, one would know where to start. In fact, the word “stigma” is in the top 10% of look ups on the Merriam-Webster Dictionary's website. According to Merriam-Webster, the definition of stigma is “a set of negative and often unfair beliefs that a society or group of people have about something.” The first known use of the word “stigma” was circa 1593. “Stigma” is derived from the Latin word “stigmat”, which means a mark or brand (Merriam-Webster, Incorporated). Types of stigma include prejudice, discrimination, cues, and stereotypes. Now, one must be wondering, “What does this have to do with mental illness?” Well, many individuals show stigma against mental illness. Stigma against mental illness can show up in all settings- work, school, you name it. Stigma exists in every place one can imagine. Some offenders may not realize they, themselves, are a part of the problem. By just saying myths, like sufferers of mental illness can just snap out of their illness, is enough to create stigma. Words like the aforementioned are enough to make people who suffer from mental illness want fto crawl up under their sheets and never come out. Mental illness can only get better with treatment. In fact, some disorders, such as bipolar disorder, will get worse if untreated and it will become more uncertain if the sufferer will ever get better (“Lack”). Stigma against mental illness makes people not want to get treated for their illnesses. In fact, forty percent of Americans suffering from bipolar disorder and schizophrenia are not receiving treatment. Mental illness is as real as cancer and does not discriminate. Anyone can have mental illness or develop it. Essentially, mental illness is just “faulty wiring.. in the brain” (Siegfried). According to a survey done by Madeline Connell, only three percent of those surveyed said they had no close friends or family with a mental disorder. Considering the small sample size of thirty one survey takers in this survey, one would be fairly surprised. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, one in four people suffers from a diagnosable mental illness. One in seventeen people in the United States population suffers from a serious mental illness (“The Numbers”). Knowing this fact, we must ask ourselves if the individuals who claim to not know anyone with a mental illness really are telling the truth, are embarrassed, or purely ignorant. Today's society is now developed enough where one should be able to recognize mental illness and not be embarrassed of those with mental illness.
However, not all stigma was created from ignorance. Some, like “The Demon Possession Handbook” by J.F. Cogan, are created to create stigma and hurt those with mental illness. In “The Demon Possession Handbook”, Cogan lists symptoms which can...

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