Breaking the Stigma Against Mental Disorders


Graphic: Nicole Leith
Brooke Lavite
Staff Writer

 Mad, insane, crazy — a few derogatory terms that persons suffering from mental disorders are labeled with. Affected people face a social stigma against mental illness that may leave them feeling even more isolated.

Merriam-Webster’s dictionary defines stigma as “a set of negative and often unfair beliefs that a society or group of people have about something.”

This inclination to discriminate against those who are suffering from psychological issues can be traced to the media. In film and television, affected fictional characters are often portrayed as manipulative, dangerous, and sociopathic.

Those who have no experience with mental illness often associate these negative characteristics to all persons affected by the illness they witnessed via cinema.

The affected person is then ostracized and fearful. This can perpetuate their problem and make them feel more lonely than before they felt the threat of discrimination.

“One in four people are affected by mental illness; 75 percent go untreated,”  Sarah Rankin, M.A. Assistant Professor of Psychology at Lewis and Clark Community College said.

The aversion many people have from mental illness often discourages the afflicted from getting the assistance they need.

Those suffering are often afraid to seek attention, as they may be viewed as weak, unstable, or a myriad of other misconceptions.

Mental illness is just that — illness. People who are affected should be afforded the same respect as someone who is afflicted with diabetes or high blood pressure.

A psychological condition is not something that a person can control; it is something that needs treatment as does any other illness or disorder.

“If it’s not you [affected], it is someone you know and love,” Rankin said.

Don’t feed into the idea that mental disorders define a person, it affects them but doesn’t make them who they are.

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