Stigma Surrounding Mental Health

Many individuals perceive the term ‘mental illness’ with a certain negative connotation and often associate it with disability or violence. For instance, media often portrays villainous characters as individuals with mental illness. This link makes it seemingly appropriate for viewers to discern those affected by mental disorders as dangerous and unpredictable. However, the reality is that these individuals are actually more likely to become victims of violence themselves. I believe that this certain stigma may be due to the fact that mental illness is largely misunderstood by the general public. Not only must people diagnosed with a mental illness suffer the consequences of social stigma, but also they experience self-perceived stigma. We may contribute this to things such as the media or stereotypes surrounding mental illness. Self stigma is often lead by the idea that others are perceiving a person with mental illness as unable or troubled, causing them to be different and stand out from the rest.

Culture also plays a part when it comes to the perception of mental illness. Specifically, the values within the spiritual or religious aspect greatly influences a person’s conceptualization of wellness and illness. For example, individuals practicing religions such as hinduism or buddhism believe in karma, which is an outcome that was caused by past actions. Those practicing this religion may regard individuals suffering from mental illness as if they have made wrongful actions in the past, and who have earned their fate. Although, every culture is different, and each has its own conceptions of mental illness. Additionally, mental illness may be well-understood in some cultures, yet knowledge of the topic may be less prominent in others. Therefore it may be easier to learn to accept a person’s illness in some cultures rather than others. 

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