May is mental health awareness month and many different aspects of the mental health field are being highlighted by multiple organizations. These topics primarily focus on the increased need for the intervention, diagnosis and treatment of psychological disorders. While these major topics are incredibly important to the progressive future of mental health, some issues have gone overlooked for quite a while. One of these important topics is the stigma associated with mental health and its related problems.
Stigma associated with mental disorders can hinder those who wish to seek treatment. Besides being bullied, threatened or physically harassed, people afflicted with psychological impairments also struggle with restricted occupational, educational and social opportunities. Specifically with a lack of schooling or work experience, these individuals will also have limited financial success. Without a supportive family or group of friends to help make up for these challenges, many more problems and obstacles will worsen their respective situations.
In addition to various disorders, the process of treatment has also been criticized over the years. Some people still hold on to a traditional belief that anyone who openly admits and expresses their problems is somehow weak.
According to the latest national data collected by the Substance Abuse Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), only 14.5 percent of American adults received some type of mental health treatment or counseling in the past year. The most commonly reported reasons for not going to therapy include not knowing where to go, believing that the individual can handle the problem without treatment as well as a number of concerns about confidentiality and the embarrassment of others finding out. All of these worries are based on the ignorant opinions and perceptions people have of the mental health industry.
For example, there is the media’s portrayal of mental health and how sources such as television and film influence their viewers’ points of view. A 2003 study evaluated an assortment of different shows to demonstrate that the psychologically ill characters are typically depicted as dangerous and erratic. In fact, the overall image of someone with a mental health disorder is heavily stereotyped to a set of rigid standards, from socio-economic status to even an individual’s appearance. When this is the only kind of exposure an average citizen has to a mental disorder, he or she may develop an unfair and unjust bias when confronted with an actual human being with a disorder. Unfortunately, this is the exact case most the of the time. In order for people with serious mental problems to be brave enough to reach out for help, they must ignore the warped and fabricated perception people have of them and realize their issues can be resolved.
Another scrutinized aspect of mental health is the treatment process. Although historically accurate to a specific degree, films like “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” and “Girl, Interrupted” have painted a dark depiction of psychiatric care. However, these period pieces show an outdated perspective to modern standards. There is a growing selection of comprehensive and experiential treatment facilities scattered across the country. Unfortunately, due to the lack of awareness and education regarding effective treatment, individuals with mental illness often get in trouble with the law. Instead of receiving proper care, the person will needlessly begin a destructive cycle by constantly being incarcerated instead of getting treatment.
All of these examples bring a serious contradiction to light. How can the United States improve its mental health care system if a sizable amount of Americans think so negatively of their suffering neighbors and the treatment administered to them? First of all, the big change needs to come from populations who are willing to acknowledge the validity and effective treatment of mental disorders. This group must reach out and open their hearts to the trials and tribulations of those afflicted every day. As an issue that shows no signs of dissipating, a collective call to action will only become louder as the problem spreads to more individuals.
Secondly, those suffering with mental disorders must continue to stay strong. To a certain extent, opening the eyes of those ignorant to these informative concepts must be accomplished on a case to case basis. Refraining from social isolation and joining a support group should be considered, as the easiest way to humanize those with mental illness is to encourage direct and open communication. Instead of feeling shame because of one’s illness, a person can seek treatment unhindered by external forces. Most importantly, people afflicted by significant psychological dysfunction should seek and try out a type of treatment before making a judgment about it. Making an attempt to live a better life is what a fair amount of people need to do to change their situations for the better.
At Sovereign Health of California, each facility offers a comprehensive mental health treatment program tailored to a person’s specific circumstances. Treatments encompass all sorts of ailments, from depression and bipolar disorder to anxiety and substance addiction. In addition to immediate forms of support, Sovereign also provides a host of resources to educate its clients, the client’s family and anyone who visits our website to understand mental disorders and learning how to manage them. Contact a representative online or call (866) 819-0427 for more information.
Written by Lee Yates, Sovereign Health Group writer