Addressing the Stigma Surrounding Mental Illness

The subject of mental illness is still considered taboo in many social circles. It remains the “elephant in the room” that those who are suffers are reluctant to discuss.

Positive strides have recently taken place to make the public more aware of the wide range of mental health issues affecting many individuals around the globe. However, stigmas and stereotypes associated with mental illness continue to have destructive repercussions that cause sufferers to keep their problems hidden instead of seeking treatment.

Society and pop culture have sensationalized mental illness within movies, news stories, books and documentaries. Extreme cases of schizophrenia and personality disorders are depicted in movies and TV shows, causing a reflexive fear within people. Countless movies have portrayed deranged or psychotic characters as villains, agents of fear and purveyors of edge-of-your-seat thrills. Images such as these reinforce negative stereotypes placed upon those suffering from mental illness.

It isn’t difficult to understand why many who suffer from mental illnesses — whether it is depression, bipolar disorder, addictions or eating disorders — feel they will be judged if “exposed.”

Steps are being taken in an attempt to diminish stigmas surrounding mental illness. One method of garnering public attention is having celebrities shed some educational and positive light on the issues.

It is also important to publicize corrections regarding misinformation on mental health disorders. For instance, most people would probably be somewhat surprised to discover only three percent of those suffering from mental illness actually turn violent.

Additionally, mental health organizations are better educating the public about mental illnesses by expanding their roles and increasing publicity about their service offerings.