"Those people are crazy!" and why you should care.

by spark7 on March 14, 2014 - 4:19pm

            Many people don’t like to talk about mental health; they feel uncomfortable if someone brings up the topic of mental illness. It is not uncommon to hear “those people are crazy” thrown about when talking about the section of the population that suffers from a mental illness. Not only does this ostracize a whole group of people, this is exactly why there is a stigma attached to mental illness, thus resulting in a lack of help-seeking behavior. While there are treatment options available, whether they are psychological such as therapy or medicinal such as pharmaceuticals, many individuals suffering from a mental health disorder do not seek out said treatments. This is due to stigma. The issue of mental illness stigma resulting in lack of treatment is what Andres Martinez was concerned with, which lead to his research on the relationship between an increase in humanizing mental illness and the likeliness of seeking help for said illness. Through his three separate, but related studies involving computer surveys and scenario responses, Martinez was able to see that by looking at mental illness in a more human light, people grew more compassionate. This compassion not only then lead to an increase in concern for those suffering from mental health issues, but was also turned inward for a “self-compassion” so to speak. From here, it was shown that this sense of “inward-facing-compassion” decreased the stigma attached and increased the likelihood that those participants would seek out mental health treatment in the future, if ever they needed it (Martinez, 2014). This is a huge discovery. If mental health stigma can be shown to decrease after exposure to these scenarios and increasing compassion, there is the hope that stigma can decrease more widely and those who suffer from a mental illness could then feel more comfortable about the idea of seeking treatment. Also, this could possibly be applied to other illnesses in the future, not just of the mental health variety. Stigma is not limited to one area or disease.

            Martinez perhaps lacks a bit of clarity in that he doesn’t fully explain the stigma attached to mental illness. He mentions that there is one attached, but for anyone reading without background information, they likely won’t be able to understand the depth of this stigma and how devastating it can be for those suffering from a mental health disorder. This is important for a better understanding of the reasoning behind this study. The issue of stigma as it relates to mental health was actually my main topic of research for a class last semester, so I was able to read through Martinez’s paper without question, but when I took a step back and attempted to see the paper as someone without the same background knowledge would have, I was able to find questions in his work. The main thought I had was, “Why is this so important to study?” I believe Andres Martinez could have afforded more detail in the opening area of his paper so as to explain it as thoroughly as he did with his research results and conclusions. Stigma is not the only factor that plays into the lack of help-seeking behavior, and Martinez does state this, but I think he fails to explain how much of a deterrent it can be. The way others who are not affected by mental illness view these disorders is creating an uncomfortable environment for those who are affected and in a lot of situations, the end result is death, often by suicide. When people feel too uncomfortable about being judged by others, for something they can’t control, to seek treatment their illness is left alone only to deteriorate more and more as time passes. Eventually, some choose to take their life because they didn’t have the opportunity to see that with treatment, things can get better. This is the harsh reality of stigma. I think that in order to understand the necessity of Martinez’s research, readers need more background on why it is so important to humanize mental illness and eliminate stigma, so that others may improve their lives.

 

Martinez, A. G. (February 1, 2014). When 'They' Become 'I': Ascribing Humanity to

            Mental Illness Influences Treatment-Seeking for Mental/Behavioral Health

            Conditions. Journal Of Social & Clinical Psychology, 33(2), 187-206.

             doi:10.1521/jscp.2014.33.2.187

Comments

I like the way you tackle the issue of mental illness by focusing on the stigma. Sure, at time I found myself a little lost while reading your post because like you mention, stigma is not basic knowledge to all. I did my own research on the stigma of mental illness and found a lengthy article that can help further your research. The article is titled “The Stigma Associated with Mental Illness” written by the Canadian Mental Health Association. The article mentions that the stigma of mental illness typically takes the form of stereotyping, distrust, income, self-worth, and family. Because those who suffer from mental illness are known to be branded as “dangerous, unpredictable, and weak-willed” victims tend to ignore or cross out and possibility that they might have a mental illness. The article also mentions a solution, education. The authors believe that education is the best way to reduce the stigma that is linked to mental illness. The main reasons of this article is bring focus that stigma is the greatest challenge mental health has to face for the damaging effects it can have when on the journey of recovery.
Link to article: http://www.cmhanl.ca/pdf/Stigma.pdf

Montreal has a unique way to deal with the issue of stigma and mental illness. The Mood Disorders Society of Canada is a non-profit organisation that deals with issues relating to mental health and mental illness. For example they can work with people dealing with depression or bipolar illness. This is just one of many organizations that deal with mental health and strive to help those who suffer from mental illness in hopes to conquer their disease and lead them to a better life.
Link to website, specifically Anti-stigma page: http://www.mooddisorderscanada.ca/page/anti-stigma

Stigma on mental health is definitely a growing problem in today’s society. Most people don’t understand mental illness and don’t know anything about it. I think a lot of it has to do with the way the media portrays it. I’m currently reading a book called Coming of Age on Zoloft where one of the chapters discuss this exact problem. The author shows us ways that commercials, ads, magazine articles, television, shows and even music are falsely advertising mental disorders and what should be done to treat them. They are adding to the already circulating stigma that surrounds mental illness by de-humanizing it; diagnosing them with some fancy name and throwing medication at them like it’s candy and then expecting them to not only get better, but STAY “better”. Overall, your article was really intriguing and I enjoyed reading it, as I am just as interested in this subject as you are!

Mental health is a very important topic everyone should learn about. I find the facts about different mental illnesses very interesting and appealing. Everyone should know the symptoms and outcomes of different illnesses so if they encounter someone they can help them (Depression for example). The media portrays individuals with mental illnesses as crazy or psycho. I strongly dislike this theory because I, myself have a mental illness and I am certainly not crazy or psycho. This shows that media takes over peoples lives and try to create different theories for topics that are just so wrong and inappropriate! Overall, I really did enjoy reading your blog and you did a tremendous job explaining different views of people in society. Good Job!

This article explores the underlying truth that there are plenty of people suffering from mental illnesses but are not seeking help, instead they allow their timidness to get the best of them, suffering from their poor mental health. It is difficult for a person mentally ill to admit they need help. Compassion goes a long way, however a large statistic of mentally ill people cannot seek compassion because they are too shy. I propose better mental health education dé a young age to promote mental health, their effects and on the proper ways and services there are to treat it.

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