Mental illness: A societal plague Muhammad Zain Zeeshan Malik

January 30, 2023

Much of society is made up of people who grow up in loving homes surrounded by caring family members and wealth to support their every interest.On the other hand, many individuals are born...

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Much of society is made up of people who grow up in loving homes surrounded by caring family members and wealth to support their every interest.

On the other hand, many individuals are born disadvantaged, whether in broken homes, economically unstable areas, or emotionally unavailable societies. Several factors affect a person's mental growth and stability, most of which are beyond the individual's control. These can result in the development of mental illnesses that can affect a person's thinking, behaviour, energy or emotions and make it difficult to cope with everyday life. These mental illnesses can affect every part of a person's life, from their interactions with others to the basic motor skills needed to function in the world.

Social stigma is structural in society and can create barriers for people with mental or behavioural disorders. In this context, stigma is embedded in a social framework to create inferiority. This belief system can result in unequal and biased access to treatment services or the creation of policies that disproportionately affect the population. Social stigma can also cause differences in access to necessities and needs. The social structure of the developed world forces individuals to look down on those who have some kind of physical deficiency, which often translates into whatever defect a person may have.

The severity of mental illness may be slight and imperceptible, but due to millennia of inadvertent conditioning, mentally ill people are seen as completely useless members of society, which is false. Society tends to blame mentally ill people for suffering from a devil of their own making. What they don't realize is that in almost all cases it is the society and social environment in which these people live that are the biggest factors in the development of their mental illness.

Social pressures and societal constructs create a stigma that everyone must be perfect and have absolutely no flaws. This idea itself is an unattainable dream and highly problematic because our faults and differences are what make us human. Public perceptions of mental illness are often correlated with drug abuse, prostitution and general crime. The public response to mental illness can also be described as indifferent, with a high percentage believing that this group does not deserve help.

This affects people to such an extent that they may not be able to enjoy safe housing, employment opportunities or even basic health care. However, stigma and negative beliefs are not exclusive to the public. Health professionals also display some undesirable attitudes towards the mentally ill population. In healthcare, stigmatization and discrimination can be observed on several levels.

On a larger scale, mental illness can receive less investment, lower quality standards and a biased culture. For healthcare professionals, interaction with patients can also be influenced by preconceived stereotypical ideas, discriminatory behaviour and negative attitudes. Patients can feel devalued, dismissed and dehumanized by many healthcare professionals. Stigma is not only held among others in the public eye but may also be masked by the individual with the condition. With the rise and spread of various forms of media, there has been an unprecedented increase in the spread of people's opinions.

Due to the natural psychology of humans, this created a strong mistrust among humans and effectively divided humanity into hostile factions. Thus, the continued impact of this social/public stigma can influence an individual to feel guilty and inadequate about their condition. People with psychiatric disabilities internalize social stigma and believe that they are less valued because of their disorder. Thus, self-confidence and confidence in one's future decreases. Stigma is fueled by false portrayals of mental illness in the media.

It creates several misconceptions about mental illness and creates false stereotypes. The three predominant ones are as follows; people with mental illness are violent, homicidal maniacs to be feared and avoided; they have childish ideas about the world to be marvelled at; or they are responsible for their illness because they are weak-minded. In all these ignorant and primitive attitudes, one characteristic remains common: the non-legitimization of the real illnesses of these people. These send the message that this group should be avoided and excluded from communities.

The media needs to change the way it portrays characters with mental illness. Instead of a rather negative attitude and portraying mentally ill people as a threat to society, they can be portrayed in a positive light. In addition, education plays an important role in the fight against stigma. For example, when individuals are in contact with people with mental illness, stigma can be reduced. This may be a consequence of stereotypical beliefs about psychiatric conditions that align with dimensions of stigma such as dangerousness or aesthetics.

The effect of personal contact helps people discover similar interests and develop friendships, and this interaction discredits stereotypes and allows one to break free from the lies fed by society. Campaigns that challenge the biased judgment and stereotyping of the mentally ill population in the media are another solution to changing these negative thoughts and misconceptions. Petitions should be signed and organizations created to raise awareness among people. Why aren't people with diabetes or coronary heart disease treated differently? Why aren't they marked as "special"?

How is it that people with mental illness are discriminated against, but people with any physical illness are considered "normal?" Why do we think of mental illness as "internal" and "self-inflicted" when the social and cultural environment has the greatest impact on a person's mental development? Social stigma devalues the mentally ill, professionals and the health network established to support them. Mental health programs and issues are not prioritized or given little importance to governments, reducing the quality of treatment (if available) and impairing their quality of life, as well as the possibility of recovery. Mental health professionals can still be associated with anti-stigma initiatives and advocate for changes in the treatment of the mentally ill. Campaigns can be organized to raise awareness of issues that can be beneficial. Just as increased exposure to people of different ethnicities or backgrounds has been shown to reduce feelings of prejudice and suspicion, increased exposure to or discussion of mental health issues and what they mean to those dealing with them can go a long way. commonwealth.

The human mind is very aware of things, but it is much harder for that awareness to lead to changes in behaviour. Abstract concepts and understanding can be helpful, but things that cause strong sensory or emotional responses carry more weight when it comes to our psyche. For example, dieting is difficult because although we know the risks of highly saturated foods, the sensory pleasure you get from the latter often outweighs the intangible understanding of the former when it comes to decision-making.

People tend to lean toward instant gratification, even though a short wait may provide an objectively better experience. Similarly, abstract awareness of mental health problems does not automatically mean willingness or ability to do something about them. The point is that mental illness is a taboo subject in society, and only when we manage to break down these stigmas and constructs will we be able to make any tangible change.

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