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An endless battle against mental health stigma?

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By Hreem Mahadeshwar, Junior Research Assistant in the Department of Psychology, Monk Prayogshala

Stigma related to culture, race and health would be present in all societies to varying degrees. This may occur as a result of certain generalizations concerning the personal qualities of others. The universality of stigma has led to its rampant prevalence even in the field of mental health, where it rears its ugly head to discriminate against and exclude people with mental illnesses and physical deformities.

It also targets a variety of identities and ethnicities, leading to increased victimization and exploitation of injuries. A popular example is the Eeyore cartoon character from Winnie the Poohsuggesting that these disheveled and brooding individuals are the face of the classics depressionprompting the generalization that everyone who is depressed appears equally gloomy and downcast.

Clari Cseke/Pixabay

Clari Cseke/Pixabay

Stigma is a complex social phenomenon rooted in seemingly simple things. First, people with mental illnesses are often blamed for their own condition, leading to an unfair blame game and a general lack of sympathy. Uncertainty about an individual’s condition with a slight possibility of improvement could still lead to stigma in terms of abandonment or avoidance by family members.

The unpredictable and erratic nature of people with poor mental health can lead to avoidance, labeling and unfair social distancing. Fears surrounding unpredictable acts of violence are unfairly associated with mentally ill patients, resulting in the stigmatization of harmless individuals for no apparent reason. The intensity of these components increases when introducing other social structures, such as culture, into the mix.

Mental health stigma is universally present; however, to research found differences in perspectives surrounding cultural mental illness, treatment use, and community support for the same. Primarily found in India, China, Japan and other parts of Asia, mental illness is seen as a complete condition, something for losing societal position, and even the shame of denying advancement to family members, even if it is not under anyone’s control.


Source: Freepik/Freepik

A to study on US college campuses also showed that Asian students were less likely to disclose mental illnesses or use mental health treatment facilities than students of European ancestry. Rather than focusing on the etiology of disease, the Orient revolves around collectivism: how mental health problems would impact the social and economic well-being of friends and family members; having a mental illness being a direct violation of cultural norms; Overflow concerns of ostracism following disclosure.

The social fears and concerns about mental health that plague the East in general manifest as an intended and perceived stigma, in which people with mental illnesses are tormented by the idea of ​​being discriminated against by others in social scenarios.

It also helps to sweep a mental health issue “under the rug” in an effort to avoid shame and the possibility of being ostracized by society. The inability to contribute effectively to a group, which is essential from an Eastern perspective, also explains why individuals from these cultures are significantly less likely to seek or receive mental health care or intervention compared to Europeans or Americans.

It differs from results in the West, where acceptance of the biomedical causation of mental illnesses has increased dramatically in recent times, and with it the propensity to seek help for mental health problems.


Source: Freepik/Freepik

The stigma surrounding any mental health issue is so widespread that even a commmon The question of depression does not escape his reproaches. A to study of African Americans found that around 63% viewed depression as a form of “personal weakness”, around 30% would rather deal with depression themselves and, more worryingly, only a third would accept medication for the same of a health professional. This makes it all the more difficult for mental health professionals to help people with mental health issues, forcing them to cross the barrier of stigma to ensure the delivery of appropriate interventions.

Any attempt to reduce stigma in countries and cultures where mental health issues are frowned upon may require culturally appropriate intervention strategies as well as presenting mental health services and issues in a culturally sensitive way. It boils down to beliefs about mental health issues that differ radically between the collectivist perspective of the East and the biomedical perspective of the West. In a way, this may help specifically target moral attributions, such as “bad character,” and overflow concerns leading to ostracism to reduce stigma rates in the East.

Essential readings on depression

Changing attitudes and biases around any stigma, let alone mental health, is no easy task; however, experience and to research can guide the way. Initiatives such as large-scale awareness campaigns promoting social contact and inclusion have been show to have positive changes in public attitudes.

Many organizations have also started to implement anti-stigma strategies, such as QualityRights initiative, which easily provides training materials, technical support and advice to promote recovery and inclusion. An educational, open and supportive strategy is needed to combat and reduce stigma discrimination attached to mental health problems and the people concerned. The battle could simply be a “never-ending story” requiring sustained programs and effort instead of a short-lived campaign.