Why does society promote stigma towards mental illness?

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Answered by: Lexi, An Expert in the Disorders and Treatments Category
With so many prejudiced opinions in the world of psychology today, many find it difficult to talk about mental health problems to friends and family. Some consider mental health to be a form of weakness or an embarrassment when in fact it is far from the truth. With mental health considered to be the top-rated burden on the health sector – with an estimated projection cost of six trillion by the year 2030, it’s not hard to understand why the majority of society views mental illness as a negative topic.

Research shows that the majority of society consider people suffering from mental illness to be weird, outcasts and even dangerous. This prejudiced analogy of mental illness sufferers largely results from an incorrect portrayal of mental illness from media publications such as movies. The dilemma with this is that the producers largely focus or amplify behaviours for drama and shock effect including portraying highly violent characters as having mental illnesses, thus leading to negative reactions from the public.

Top Contributors of Stigma Towards Psychology Patients


By far the highest contributor in adding unwarranted stigma, media delivers unhelpful and misinformed messages to the public via media productions by displaying false portrayals of disorders.

Lack of Knowledge

Society is quick to judge and quick to stigmatise mental health patients. Usually caused by a fear of the unknown, the majority of society is uncertain of mental health patients because of a lack of understanding about mental disorders.

So, What Does This Mean For Psychology Patients?

An aversion to seeking assistance from a healthcare professional

Stigma results in mental health patients being reluctant to ask for help or treatment as they view this as being seen as a failure or weak. Regardless of this, it’s still a topic that needs to be discussed. Of the estimated 450 million mental health sufferers in the world, only sixty percent are receiving adequate care to treat their mental illness. This is an alarming statistic which needs to be remedied. All people with mental health disorders should have access to healthcare providers - and not be unfairly judged or feel uncomfortable in seeking treatment while doing so.

Social exclusion and isolation from society and activities.

Society close to condemns those with mental health disorders. While giving a wide berth around mental health patients, they unwittingly add to the unnecessary stigma towards mental illness that patients face today, further adding to their distress. When public stigma occurs, the patient is left feeling isolated and lacking support. Public and social stigma are unwarranted negative attitudes towards people with mental health disorders when they display behaviours ‘outside of the norm’ or that don’t fit in with social expectations. This social exclusion is extremely unhelpful and devastating to the health patient and greatly imposes on possible treatment results due to excess isolation.

What Needs To Happen

Society needs to accept, understand and be informed about mental illness and stop condemning and stigmatising the issue. When mental health patients are seeking, or need to seek, health treatments, they should be assisted, encouraged and supported in their quest for wellness.

By stigmatising patients, society only adds to the problem itself rather than create a solution. This mindset and negative behaviour need to change. Mental health patients suffer and attempt to live with their disorder and manage their issues on a day to day basis, and when society increases stigma towards mental illness, it only causes longer more devastating emotional damage for the patient. When it comes down to it – mental health patients aren’t weak, weird or outcasts. They are unique individuals that have a great deal of strength and courage to be facing their battles every day – and that should be commended, not stigmatised.

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