Mental Health Disorders are more common than previously thought. About half of all people in the United States will be diagnosed with a mental disorder at some point in their lifetime. Conversely, millions more will remain undiagnosed due to shame, fear, or lack of access to mental health resources. The 2020 Pandemic exacerbated a preexisting shortage of mental health professionals in the United States, resulting in over 17.7 million people having canceled or delayed therapy appointments, and 4.9 million were unable to access the care they needed.

Mental Health Stigma

Do any of these statements sound familiar? You may have witnessed or experienced mental health stigma. 

What is Mental Health Stigma?

Mental Health Stigma occurs when you are seen negatively because of your mental illness. This negative perception is created by: 

  • Stereotypes: oversimplified ideas about people with mental illness
  • Prejudices: judgments resulting in harm
  • Discrimination: unjust or prejudicial treatment of different categories of people, especially on the grounds of ethnicity, mental health status, sex, or disability

Stereotyping and prejudice facilitate the creation of myths and incorrect perceptions about mental illness, decreasing the likelihood that an individual will seek help with their mental illness and increasing the possibility of experiencing discrimination.

Types of Stigma

Stereotypes, prejudices, and discrimination differ depending on what type of Mental Health Stigma is experienced. There are three types:

  1. Public Stigma: involves the negative or discriminatory attitudes that others have about mental illness
  2. Self-Stigma: when an individual internalizes negative and untrue beliefs and attitudes about themselves
  3. Institutional/Systemic Stigma: involves government/company policies that intentionally or unintentionally limit opportunities for people with mental illness
Public StigmaSelf-StigmaInstitutional Stigma
& Prejudices
•“People with depression are lazy.”
•“People with mental disorders cannot be trusted, especially with children.
•“I don’t deserve help. I’m just being lazy.”

•“I am dangerous. I would not make a great parent.”
•Stereotypes and prejudices are both embodied in our laws
•Employers refuse to hire
•Eviction by landlords
•They receive a lower standard of care
•They aren’t allowed to adopt children
•“Why try? Someone like me is not worthy of feeling better or living a good life.”
•These thoughts result in lowered self-esteem
•Stereotypes and prejudices are both embodied in our laws
•Lowering funding for mental illness research/decreasing access to mental health resources
•Intended and unintended loss of opportunity

Common Myths: Busted

Take a look at these common dispelled myths. Are any of them familiar to you?

You only need to take care of your mental health if you have a mental health condition.Mental illness can develop at any time during your life. Taking preventative mental health measures can help stabilize your mental health status.
Adolescents with friends and straight As cannot be depressed. If they claim they are, it’s a cry for attention at most. They are probably lying in order to get out of going to school.Anyone of any age can experience depression. It can occur without an identifiable reason at times because it is caused by many factors. The pressure to achieve in school can put anyone at risk for depression. 
Only a weak person develops a mental illness and if the person were stronger, they would not have this condition. The opposite is true: recognizing and getting help for a mental health condition requires great strength and courage.

Anyone can develop a mental health condition regardless of age/race/sex/etc. It is a human condition.

Want to learn more about mental health and dispel myths? Call us at 816-287-0252 or schedule an appointment.

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