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Is there still a stigma around mental health?

Stigma is a social construct that has been shaped by culture and history. It is a mark of difference, and the inevitable consequence is the devaluation of the individual or group (Heatherton, Kleck, Hebl & Hull, 2000). Historically, stigma is seen as a mark of dishonor and is frequently experienced by those with mental illness (Barney, Griffiths, Christensen & Jorm, 2009).

According to the World Health Organisation (2001), 20% of the world’s population will experience mental illness during their life. So, it is highly probable that most people will know someone in their social network with a mental health issue. However, whether people are prepared to readily share that information with others is another question. Indeed, Bharadwaj, Pai, and Suziedelyte (2017) found that individuals were more likely to underreport mental health issues compared to other medical conditions. Fifty-one percent of survey respondents stated that they had concealed their mental health problems for fear of facing discrimination (Beyond Blue, 2015).

The negative consequences of stigma are pervasive and enduring, given that the vast majority of people with mental health concerns experience discrimination (Thornicroft, Wyllie, Thornicroft, & Mehta, 2014), it is imperative to develop sound strategies to reduce stigma. This may be to educate, support, and talk about mental health. Beyond Blue (2015) suggest approaches that utilise both educational and direct contact components, which will help to foster empathy and build knowledge so that people with mental illness can feel safe to disclose and seek help.

If you would like to learn more about Mental health, please contact Australis College.

References

Adams, P. (2008). Positioning behavior: Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in the post-welfare educational era. International Journal of Inclusive Education, 12(2), 113-125. doi.org/10.1080/13603110600790423

Barney, L.J., Griffiths, K.M., Christensen, H. & Jorm, A.F. (2009). Exploring the nature of stigmatising beliefs about depression and help‐seeking: implications for reducing stigma. BMC public health, 9 (61)

BeyondBlue Information Paper (2015). Stigma and discrimination associated with depression and anxiety. August 2015

Bharadwaj, P., Pai, M.M., and Suziedelyte, A. (2017). Mental health stigma. Economic Letters, 159, 57-60.

Corrigan, P. W. (2018). The stigma effect unintended consequences of mental health campaigns. New York: Columbia University Press.

Fox, J. D. & Stinnett, T. A. (1996). The effects of labelling bias on prognostic outlook for children as a function of diagnostic label and profession. Psychology in the Schools, 33(2), 143-152.  doi.org/10.1002/(SICI)1520-6807(199604)33:2<143::AID-PITS7>3.0.CO;2-S

Heatherton, T. F., Kleck, R. E., Hebl, M. R. & Hull, J. G. (2000). The social psychology of stigma. New York: The Guilford Press.

Ohan, J., Visser, T. A. W, Strain, M. C. & Allen, L. (2011). Teachers’ and education students’ perceptions of and reactions to children with and without the diagnostic label “ADHD”. Journal of School Psychology, 49(1), 81-105. doi.org/10.1016/j.jsp.2010.10.001

Thornicroft, C., Wyllie, A., Thornicroft, G. & Mehta, N. (2014). Impact of the “Like Minds, Like Mine” anti‐stigma and discrimination campaign in New Zealand on anticipated and experienced discrimination. Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry, 48 (4), 360 – 370. 

World Health Organization. (‎2001)‎. The World health report : 2001 : Mental health : new understanding, new hope. Geneva : World Health Organization.