The social stigma of mental health problems is something that affects not just those suffering, but their friends, families, work colleagues and indeed, society in general.
What constitutes mental illness?
Mental illness is a broad-brush term for a wide range of mental health conditions. These are disorders that affect a person in various ways such as:
Examples of mental illness include:
- Addictive behaviours
- Anxiety disorders
- Eating disorders
Concerns can turn to illness:
Many of us suffer from mental health concerns at some stage in our lives, but this is not a permanent factor. However, if these concerns develop, they become a mental illness.
Signs and symptoms of such development include frequent periods of stress and a person’s ability to function ‘normally’.
A mental illness often shows through extended periods of being miserable and often causes negative knock-on effects for those suffering as well as those closest to them.
Such effects are seen in the heartache caused to close family members and a lack of ability to sustain as well as maintain personal relationships.
It is imperative that anyone who feels symptoms of depression, sadness, fatigue or lack of self-esteem increasing to seek help. They, or someone close to them should arrange an appointment with their GP or get in touch with the local health authority as a priority.
It is only by seeking help that a person will begin to understand the root cause of their problem. Once this is established treatment options can be offered.
Social stigma exasperates problems:
Society in general has a stereotypical view of those suffering from mental illness and how it affects the person concerned.
Fuelled by press sensationalism, the attitude tends to be that anyone with mental health issues is violent and even dangerous. The reality is that this group are more at risk of being attacked or causing self-harm than the other way around.
It should also be realised that such discrimination and stigma can only exacerbate problems for those suffering with mental illness.
Compounding the problem:
It is well known that those with mental health problems suffer in many other ways. For example, they are far less likely to:
- Find work
- Maintain a steady, long-term relationship
- Be freely accepted into mainstream society
With such challenges it is little doubt that many struggle to survive.
Mental health workers DO make a difference:
Make no mistake, those who have chosen to work in the mental health care sector have qualities that should be admired as well as applauded.
Sadly, there is no shortage of men, women and children suffering from mental health issues, but there is a shortage of trained professionals in this field.
If you are currently a care professional or someone considering a career in social services perhaps majoring on helping those with mental health issues is for you.
This extremely challenging career path is not for everyone, but it is a path that will bring far reaching rewards.
Helping to combat the social stigma of mental health problems is just one strand of a complex care issue that requires individuals with a mental toughness all of their own.