In Australia, do you know that around 4 million people are diagnosed with mental illness every year, i.e., one out of every four people is struggling with mental health? And three out of four people have reported that they have faced stigma, which worsens their mental health more than ever.
The way that society and people behave these days, especially with such crucial issues, makes me sometimes think if society has ever evolved or not? Or do some people even consider mental health problems an illness or not?
It is an illness that cannot be identified via blood test, CT scan or x-ray. Mental health issues affect a person’s brain, mood, ability to think, talk, perceive things, anger, hunger, happiness, etc. Still, most people think that mental illness is not an illness.
Multiple kinds of mental illnesses can happen to any human, and the most common ones are:
- Drugs or substance use disorder
- Personality disorders
- Panic and stress disorder
Such illnesses can be short-term, and if not treated or taken care of properly, they can cause permanent damage to the human body.
Understanding the Stigma surrounding mental health issues
Stigma can be defined as a fear of non-acceptance of anything, mental health illness in this case, due to lack of knowledge and awareness. The taboo about mental health also gets stuck in the mind of the people due to false and inaccurate media representation. And so,e people are rigid with their thought processes and mentality so that no one can educate them about their stigma.
People with mental illness are cornered and discriminated against in multiple ways. More than half of the persons who have a mental illness don’t speak about their mental health problems, fearing being judged or ignored. Some even fear being treated differently in the neighborhood or losing their jobs etc.
Different kinds of stigma in this society that researchers have identified over a while:
- The first one is Public Stigma, which is the most common one. It is again based on the unawareness that leads to discriminatory behaviour against persons with mental illness.
- The next one is Self Stigma, and it arises out of Public Stigma. Only people who have any mental illness develop a feeling of shame and a negative attitude towards themselves because of their conditions and societal pressure.
- The last one is Institutional Stigma, which is structural, comprising the public and private-sector ordinances that restrict the possibilities for somebody with mental illnesses, whether deliberately or accidentally. Two examples are more downward financing for mental ailment analysis or more undersized mental health assistance than other healthcare.
Some facts about Mental health stigmas in Australia:
According to research conducted in Australia in 2006,
- Nearly one-quarter of individuals believe depression is a sign of individual weakness and would not hire or vote for someone who suffers from it. Also, one in society would vote for a politician who has a mental illness.
- 42% said persons with depression were unpredictable, and 1 in 5 stated they would not tell anybody if they experienced depression.
- Nearly two-thirds of those polled believed persons with schizophrenia were unanticipated, while most people have said they are also unsafe.
- People with intellectual disabilities and members of cultural or ethnic minorities, for example, face several forms of stigma and prejudice at the same time.
Suppose you are someone who is pursuing a career in nursing. In that case, you should pay extra attention to these factors as you may get multiple assignments related to mental health issues. For that, many students also seek assistance from Australian Assignment Help if they lack proper knowledge and guidance.
How does the stigma affect people with mental health?
Stigma and biassed nature can aggravate signs and lower the possibility of acquiring therapy. According to a current literature review, self-stigma negatively affects restoration among those analysed with serious mental illness.
The following are examples of possible effects on people having mental health issues:
- They don’t have any hope for anything in life.
- They have to face major self-esteem issues.
- Psychiatric symptoms that they have becomes much more severe, and in some cases, it can also be suicidal.
- Social anxiety is another effect caused by these stigmas; people face problems in social interactions and attending any gathering where there are a lot of people.
- Due to stigma, such people often even ignore the option of taking therapy sessions, as they believe that they deserve to have such a kind of illness.
- Things become even tougher for those working professionals as their anxiety didn’t allow them to interact with people. They fear asking any question at work. Hence it affects their personal growth as well.
What is the Australian Government doing to eliminate the mental health stigma from society?
Keeping in mind the increasing cases of mental health issues in Australia and what’s more alarming, people are not addressing not even finding a cure for their problem due to the stigma and pressure established by society over the years.
The Australian government has finalised multiple methods and strategies to reduce the discrimination and stigma related to mental health in society.
Here’s what is the main objective of the Australian government:
- To reduce the Public Stigma, they planned on changing the behaviour and the attributes of the general people suffering from Sanism or Mentalism.
Suppose you are wondering what Sanism or Mentalism is. In that case, it describes the prejudice and oppression based on a mental characteristic or condition that a person possesses or is considered to possess. Mental illness or cognitive disability may or may not be a factor in this prejudice.
- For self-stigma, the government has planned to create an open platform and educate those who have self-stigma.
- The government has also planned steps toward reducing the institutional stigma for those dealing with mental health issues in a recognised setting.
If you wonder how the government will reach the desired goal, what exactly will they do to reduce the stigma from society?
Well, they have planned to involve individuals with a living background of mental illness and persons who have been instantly influenced by stigma. People with different backgrounds in the health system and the broader community will be included in the strategy development.
To assist the development of the Strategy, the Commission formed a Steering Committee and a succession of Technical Advisory Groups. The Advisory Board and Technical Advisory Committees are co-chaired by persons with lived experience and other types of knowledge in the specific contexts that the plan wants to transform.
What can we do to beat the stigma related to mental health in society?
We all know someone battling mental illness in our lives, and if you are empathetic enough, you must have looked out for many ways to reduce their stress or help people at large. This is what you can do:
- You can look out for mental illness and disorder truths and share them with others or when you sit with a group of friends.
- You can attempt to know and understand people who have personal incidents with mental illness and convey up in protest when friends, family, coworkers, or the media advertise fraudulent assumptions and hostile stereotypes. You can provide the same support to people with physical and mental illnesses.
- Avoid giving them any tag or judging them; treat them with affection and respect just like anyone else.
- The longer mental illness is kept buried; the more people feel it is shameful and must be kept hidden.
Don’t be one of them. Take a stand against such stigma in society
The fact about mental illness is that it is invisible. You can come across a person with depression having a broad smile on their face, and you can see someone very confident yet struggling with anxiety issues.
You can find people with negative body issues who look very attractive. Some people are excellent public speakers but still, have panic attacks. You won’t even realise that there are people with successful careers battling imposter syndrome.
Just because you can’t see it, it doesn’t mean that it’s not there. And if you can’t notice anything wrong in any person, just stop yourself from judging anyone for any reason. You don’t know where they are coming from. How can your words affect them?
According to research, if you know or have contact with anyone suffering from mental illness is one of the most influential approaches to decrease the stigma. People who stand up and communicate their struggles can create a difference. When we know somebody with a mental illness, it becomes less threatening and more authentic.
Be empathetic. That’s all you need to do to reduce the mental stigma around you.