Reducing the Stigma of Mental Illness
Looking for reducing the stigma of mental illness? What is mental illness? When most people hear the words mental illness they conjure up images of gowned, dangerous individuals unfit for society. Hannibal Lector in his muzzle being wheeled to and fro, strictly monitored in his facility for the “criminally insane”. Old haggard women who own a lot of house cats and the timeless stereotype of the straight jacket bound wild-looking bearded man jabbering nonsense.
It’s no wonder that mental illness conjures up these scary pictures for the uninformed when Jack Nicholson and his fiendish eyebrows depict the mentally ill in this light. Of course, all of the blame simply cannot fall upon Jack Nicholson or Hollywood for that matter, the way these stigmas keep cycling, growing and hurting is by way of ignorance.
Although they can bleed over into physical effects, mental illness is a disorder that affects the intangible side of you. Because they predominately affect thinking behavior, behavioral patterns, and mood there is a very large grey area where people are diagnosed. From out of the ashes panic attacks may occur and a person who isn’t well versed in the sciences of the mind might think this to be a part of their personality. Such explanations like “My mother was very worrisome, I definitely inherited her personality” Is a regular occurrence. On the other hand, if your father had bad knees and you were to injure your knees one day then it would be wise to see a physician see what could be done about the knee.
A problem modern man faces is misinterpreting the signs of trouble in their mind by ignoring them as well as restraining the problems in total secrecy, in fear of being stigmatized as a crazy manic, a lunatic, a madman, a psycho, a crazed schizo, and so on. The list of derogatory terms blanketed over mental illness makes it no wonder a person would try to suppress their mental illness in secrecy, making the problem worse by staying in the same environment that produced the illness. Highlighting mental illnesses is like spraying an air freshener over the foul odor of stigma that completely eradicates it instead of simply masking it.
The most common mental disorders are anxiety disorders, mood disorders, psychosis, and schizophrenia. Anxiety disorders encompass Agoraphobia, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), specific phobias such as Coulrophobia (fear of clowns), and many, many more. The most common of these anxiety disorders is a social anxiety disorder which is the fear of social situations, includes but isn’t limited to the fear of public speaking, eating in public, going to parties or any social gathering for that matter.
An example of mood disorders is bipolar disorder and depression. Bipolar disorder affects the mood, thinking pattern, and the behavior of a person. They go from the highs known as “mania” and the depressive lows that last longer and are felt more deeply than the average person. Depression is a mental disorder that affects not only mood, thinking, and behavior but jumps into physical health as well, bringing with it many side effects that do nothing but keep the cycle of depression rolling. To slow down and eventually stop the cycle of mental illness stigma, many people do not believe they have the power to do anything about it, but many do not realize that getting informed is something a person can easily do.