MENTAL ILLNESS - WHY THE STIGMA?

Mental illness is extremely common. Despite its frequency and dire consequences, it is surrounded by ignorance, prejudice and stigma. It is a topic that no one wants to talk about. It is the elephant in the room.

YOU DO NOT SAY TO SOMEONE WITH CANCER - FORGET ABOUT IT

Mental illness - the elephant in the room?

 Mental illness is extremely common. Some estimates say that one in three people suffer from some form of mental illness. 
 
Despite its frequency and dire consequences, it is surrounded by ignorance, prejudice and stigma. It is a topic that no one wants to talk about. It is the elephant in the room. 
 
Here, Cliff Straehley, a Fellowship member, starts a new forum for discussion with a view to debunking some aspects of mental illness.
 
My medical dictionary defines "Stigma", as, "A mark of shame or discredit." Many cultures have widespread, critical beliefs that having a mental illness means that the sufferer is weak or somehow defective. Often cultures have beliefs that a person should be able to take care of all their problems by themselves, or else it means that they are not "strong". Patients with serious depression, anxiety, or schizophrenia are looked down upon and avoided. 

Even worse than these external, negative, beliefs and attitudes is the fact that within these cultures, people with mental disorders often have attitudes and beliefs, so that they stigmatize themselves. They feel ashamed and embarrassed, because they also believe that they are weak, defective, or somehow lackingMy medical dictionary defines "Stigma", as, "A mark of shame or discredit." Many cultures have widespread, critical beliefs that having a mental illness means that the sufferer is weak or somehow defective. 

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