The Stigma Of Mental Illness Essay

The Stigma Of Mental Illness Essay

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When I was in high school, I was a somewhat cranky person. I remember growing irritated with an acquaintance, but I tried to remain calm. Eventually, I could not hide my emotions anymore and snapped. My acquaintance then called me crazy and bipolar, as he believed that bipolar disorder meant simply having mood swings. I specifically remember this instance; it was then that I began to understand that those with mental illnesses were quite misunderstood by society.
The stigma of those with mental illnesses has been prevalent since before the turn of the 20th century. The majority of people do not fully understand mental disorders and are thus afraid, although mental illnesses affect hundreds of millions of people across the world in some way or another (Hinshaw 6). The media many times portrays mental illness as “criminal,” “unpredictable,” and “dangerous” (Thornicroft 109). The lack of education about mental illness further disguises the humanity of those diagnosed. This seems somewhat strange as Graham Thornicroft, a professor of community psychiatry at the Institute of Psychiatry in King’s College London and an activist in global mental health awareness, says that “contact with people with mental illness is common” (108). The stigma of mental illness affects multiple aspects of a person’s life; they increase the everyday burdens of those living with mental disorders, lower self esteem and image, and can even have an adverse affect in interpersonal relationships.
News sources, a scarcity of education about , and general lack of understanding of psychological disorders all lead to the stigma of mental illness. Bruce Bower, who has a master’s degree in journalism and psychology, notes that many people would prefer not to discuss...


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...alize it. National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) says that approximately 18.5 percent of adults in the United States experience mental illness. That’s 43.8 million people! So even if you aren’t one of the millions of people with a mental health issue, you most likely know someone who is.
Most of the people in my life do not know that I was diagnosed with Bipolar Type II disorder. I try not talk about it because I know of the stigma that surrounds mental illness. When I initially tell someone about my struggle with this illness, it elicits responses such as “but you seem so normal” and “I never would’ve guessed you were crazy.” These responses are incredibly offensive and are caused by the ignorance and misconceptions about psychological disorders. The number one way to solve the epidemic of ignorance is to increase education and open lines of communication.



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