Mental Illness Still Carries Stigma

Mental IllnessMental illness still carries the stigma, leading to shame and embarrassment when someone suffers from it. This is despite that fact that a new study shows that one in five Americans suffer from some type of illness. Some of the illnesses include bipolar disorder and depression.

According to a Psychological Medicine article, a study shows that the stigma attached to suffering from some type of mental illness stops patients seeking the treatment they need. The researchers in that study believe that a quarter of patients have an illness that can be cured, but three-quarters believe that treatment is unnecessary. The research involved looking into 144 different studies from around the world and was carried out at King’s College London. A total of around 90,000 participants were involved across the 144 studies.

Between 40 and 50 percent of patients with schizophrenia or bipolar disorder leave their condition untreated. That number is even greater when looking into those struggling with anxiety and depression. One of the main reasons cited when participants were asked was the stigma and feelings when admitting that they have a mental illness. Some of the other barriers for seeking help included fears that confidentiality would be broke and the preference to take care of their own problems.

There is a current rise in campaigns to help people battle their mental health conditions. Many of those focus on the stigma that is still carried by mental illness and disorders. There is a focus on those not suffering from the illnesses to support their friends and family members, and simply listen when they need to talk.

The campaigns hope to help the fifth of Americans who suffer from some type of illness, according to data collected by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). Out of the 20 percent of American adults struggling with disorders, around 21 percent find their everyday activities and work are affected due to the severity of the condition.

The most recent data collected by SAMHSA shows very similar results to the data collected in 2012. While there is a 1.8 percent difference, there is a margin of error and the method of collecting the data differs. The difference does not show that there is necessarily a decline in people suffering from some type of mental illness.

Something that could come across as extremely worrying is the fact that a third study shows that a fifth of US soldiers have a mental health illness. Some have depression, but others have shown ADHD or panic disorders before they enlist. The criticism is not with the soldiers but the screening and assessments the military makes of its recruits.

Confidential interviews and surveys with almost 5,500 soldiers has shown that 1.1 percent have tried to kill themselves in the past, while eight percent have considered it. Usually, those who have tried to commit suicide in the past are barred from servicing in any of the armed forces. There is uncertainty how the soldiers will handle the training and active duty, especially with the current stigma that is carried by mental illness.

By Alexandria Ingham




The Los Angeles Times

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