General Question

wundayatta's avatar

What might be a successful strategy for removing the stigma of mental illness?

Asked by wundayatta (58638points) April 25th, 2011

Right now, it seems like the strategy is to trot out celebrities with some mental illness and have them stand up to say how brave they are in fighting their illness. Maybe a little education goes on. Maybe not.

I have a hard time believing that poster children will raise awareness in any helpful way. “Did you hear that Catherine Z-J is crazy? She sure is cute. Such a waste, though. Someone sane should have gotten that body.” Like that is going to help.

What would help?

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16 Answers

yankeetooter's avatar

I don’t know what the answer is…Years back I saw a therapist for depression, and while going through this my family and friends seemed to see through me, almost as if they couldn’t accept that someone in their family could have something of this nature wrong with them. As a result, when I start feeling down, half the time I don’t even bring it up with them, worried that their reaction will be the same…

Facade's avatar

I’d say education and exposure would help a lot. Mental illness isn’t spoken about much. Most people only know of mental illnesses as they are portrayed stereotypically. If more people were upfront and honest about psychological issues, then it wouldn’t be so stigmatized. I think a lot of people are dealing with psychological issues in secret, and if each of them decided to discuss their problems with friends and family, understanding would hopefully spread, releasing the stigma. Maybe

LostInParadise's avatar

One thing that has to be gotten across is that, just like physical illnesses, mental illnesses take many different forms. Schizophrenia, depression and compulsive disorder are different and should not be lumped together. Maybe it would be helpful to have a campaign that stressed the differences. It would also be helpful to point out that mental illnesses differ not only in type but also by degree of severity, and just as a person with physical handicaps can live a productive life so too can people with mental illnesses.

derekfnord's avatar

More education and exposure could probably make it a little better, but likely nothing will make it a lot better. Most people naturally tend to fear the unknown, and a mental illness in another person—no matter how much you may know about the condition intellectually—is usually going to be largely unknown (and therefore scary) to most people.. Because someone without the illness doesn’t really understand how it feels to have it, so there’s always some sense in which the mentally ill person seems “alien” to many people.

gorillapaws's avatar

Covering mental illness in high-school health classes might help. Particularly statistics related to how common many of the diseases are, what the warning signs are and dispelling some of the more common myths. It certainly doesn’t need to be a complete introduction to abnormal psychology, but a little information can go a long way.

Case studies can do a lot to add humanity into understanding what a disorder is and how it can affect people. True stories of real people with typical problems (not the most extreme outliers) would really help people understand how difficult mental illness can be, and also how beneficial some treatments can be as well.

Cruiser's avatar

I read somewhere that 1 in 10 people are clinically depressed and over half don’t know it or avoid seeking treatment because of the stigma attached to the diagnosis. So I don’t see where a poster child celebrity would be such a bad thing especially if people get the courage to get help because of her or him.

belakyre's avatar

A successful strategy would probably entail educating and exposing children to this.
My cousin’s mentally disabled, and when I had to interact with someone so different but also so close to me I had to learn to accept that though he was different… he’s a human being just like me and is entitled to the same degree of respect that I gave to everyone else.

blueiiznh's avatar

The thing that helped me to understand, accept and put it in a proper perspective was simple:
It is something that is in the make up of the brain.
Why should someone be treated differently because of something that is completely out of their control. It is a disability of the brain.
Would you think about someone differently if they had a brain tumor versus a mental illness?
They are both something that affects you neurologically that are a disability and you need treatment for.

Nullo's avatar

How did they kill the stigma with glasses?
I’d say that mental illness is almost inherently disconcerting; the mind is the part closest to the self, after all. If you don’t go in for the existence of the soul, then the mind is the self; even worse. Ignoring such a fundamental flaw is a very human behavior.

I personally think that psychology is a shaky science, and that there is therefore too much emphasis on the value of therapists. If they can ever stop updating the DSM, I might reconsider.

everephebe's avatar

What about what is doing?
I say trot out the celebs, it calls attention to the issue and then people learn about it.

Response moderated (Unhelpful)
Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

Just like with anything else, the burden of educating shouldn’t be on the people experiencing mental illness. We should all, as allies, be cognizant of educating others about mental illness and how it’s not okay to stigmatize it.

Sunny2's avatar

Maybe when the effectiveness of treatment for it becomes more commonly known and the diagnosis doesn’t have to follow you all your life as a reason not to be hired. People are afraid of the unexpected and all the “psycho killers” and “crazy behavior” or “out of control actions” that are played up in horror movies don’t help. Education, education, education plus more public contact with people who have a mental illness under control. The medications are doing a better and better job.

YARNLADY's avatar

There is very little that can be done other than educating people. I didn’t hear you complain when diabetic or asthmatic athletes were brought out as examples of what you can do in spite of it.

mattbrowne's avatar

Well-known respected people coming out of the closet, for example athletes and actors.

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