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MU Psych Central – Fighting Stigma

Reducing the negative outlook through awareness and education

 

by Dr Nicolle Mayo - September 4, 2015

Mental health is an important issue, like medical health, yet much of society does not view these two fields in the same way. In terms of maintaining our physical health, most of us think about going to the doctor when we feel sick in order to be diagnosed and treated. Some of us even take preventative action and live lifestyles that reduce physical maladies. Not nearly as many people take the same precautions or interventions seriously when it comes to mental health. Why is it that we give more weight to physical health over mental health?

For centuries, mental health has been stigmatized based on previous views and treatment of those with psychological disorders. Scientists have since conducted abundant research to explain the development of mental illness based on biological, cognitive, and environmental processes; this has brought more understanding to abnormal psychological patterns. Even so, many people still tend to shy away from finding help for fear of being labeled, feeling “stuck” with a diagnosis the rest of their life, worrying about how others will see and treat them, or feeling alone and isolated. It feels scary!

The real news is that 1 in 4 people struggle with some sort of mental health difficulty in a given year; this is around 61.5 million Americans (National Institute of Mental Health, n.d.). Anxiety and depression take the lead, along with co-occurring (two or more) disorders affecting any one person at a time. Statistics are significantly higher when identifying how many people deal with mental health issues over the course of their lifetime. You are not alone!

Just as well, there are several types of mental health professionals that are familiar with many mental health issues and know how to treat them because of effective treatments based on credible researh. Seeking treatment early is one of the most important intervention factors for effectively managing mental health. This proactive approach saves time and money for the person affected by a disorder, mental health agencies, and hospitals that end up spending billions of dollars on mental health a year (Insel, 2008). Early treatment can significantly reduce symptoms and prevent them from getting worse later on. Prevention factors can also be applied for those who have a family history of psychological disorders that have a strong genetic influence. It just takes a little extra time to explore family history; mental health professionals can then offer some suggestions for living a lifestyle that may reduce the chances of disorder development.

Awareness of the significance of seeking and receiving effective mental health treatment is imperative. Stigma has been promoted in the media, news, and other venues that largely misunderstand the development and prognosis of mental health issues. This negative view has cost many lives and prevented treatment successes. As such, it is all the more important for people to know and understand the truth behind mental health problems, act on it, and share it with others.

MU Psych Central is supported by the Mansfield Psychology Department, which includes Dr. Gretchen Sechrist, Department Chair and Associate Professor, who specializes in Social Psychology, Dr. Joy Patricia Burke, who holds expertise in educational psychology and specializes in school counseling, Dr. Brian Loher, Professor, our Human Resource Management specialist, Dr. Francis Craig, Professor, expert in Mind/Body Health, Dr. Karri Verno, Associate Professor, who specializes in Lifespan Development and Forensic Psychology and Nicolle Mayo, Assistant Professor, expert in Marriage and Family Therapy.

Credits:

Writing: N/A

Photography: N/A,

 

Produced by Vogt Media

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