People with mental health faces stigma, which negatively affects their lives. We can observe more stigma and prejudice towards people with mental health in developing countries. People stigmatized mental illness back to the sixteenth century, associating it with witchcraft, sorcery, and evil. People with mental health falls to mistreatment and send to asylums away from the public glare. Some ridiculed them and labeled them appropriately with derogatory names. Later, people slowly understood mental health as having physiological rather than psychological causes.
Our mental health refers to our cognitive, behavioral, and emotional well-being. It all comes down to how we think, feel, and act. Our mental health can affect how we live our lives, our relationships, and our physical health. When our mental state is suffering, it can change how we communicate with others, how we get about, how we understand situations, and the list goes on. Stress, depression, and anxiety will both affect our mental health and hinder our everyday life.
World Health Organization defines mental health as a state of well-being in which we recognize our strengths and our ability to cope with pressure, stress, and demand in our lives. In contrast, mental illness is a cluster of mental issues that affect your emotions, perception, thoughts, and behavior. Mental diseases include depression, anxiety disorders, schizophrenia, eating problems, and addictive behaviors.
In the Philippines, stigmatizing attitudes against people with mental illnesses are frequently expressed through humor or hatred, while media portrayals incline towards association with harm and wrongdoing. Stigma persists not just in people with mental health but among healthcare professionals in any setting. Stigma continues to be the most significant impediment to the development of the mental health system as a whole.
We often link stigma to culture. We can't deny that our culture influences how we behave, act and think. Culture normalizes what is acceptable and not. Consequently, cultural beliefs regarding mental health and illness are similarly culturally bound. One person's mental illness became a family's mental illness in the Filipino culture. Private stigma (self-stigma) mediates the relationship between public stigma and attitudes toward seeking professional help. It yielded a negative correlation for persons with mental illness seeking professional help. To some extent, people don't want to lose face when someone's neighborhood knows that they are seeking and receiving psychotherapy, which is one key factor that deters acceptance to mental health programs to flourish.
Although there is little doubt that mental health stigma exists in the Philippines, we still have little data to describe the extent to which it affects Filipinos with mental illnesses. Our health department pointed out a lack of mental health promotion programs, contributing to the never-ending stigma of people with mental health illnesses. People frequently use mental illness comments to describe obnoxious politicians. People with mental illnesses hide away from the public; in other cases, their family members are the ones who detain and keep them away from the public due to the fear of losing their face. Some Filipinos have a nomadic understanding of mental illness tends, which their judgments might be harsh, and stigmatizing behaviors appear to be unrestrained.
Stigmatization of people with mental illnesses is thought not only by the general population but also by those with mental illnesses themselves. People's negative opinions and discriminatory responses toward people with mental illnesses are seemingly rampant. When people with mental illnesses internalize the stigmatizing attitudes of the general public, they develop self-stigma, which rises over time.
We see a slew of severe consequences due to stigma. In some cases, it jeopardized social opportunities and pushed back people with mental illness to the dark alleys of our society. People with mental illnesses have few career alternatives, despite their desire to work. Those with mental health problems, particularly those with psychoticism, faces low chances for employment. People with mental health concealed their conditions from coworkers and friends for fear of being ostracized.
The media has a significant impact on public attitudes toward mental illness. We saw some news outlets sensationalizing people with mental illness despite the news only superficial and doesn't know the mental condition of those involved. Some people pointed out that mental illness accounts for more violence. Some police approach people with mental illnesses are stigmatizing too. They are more likely to arrest them. Other people believed that people with mental illness must be in the hospital permanently.
Again, stigma impends public health prevention at all levels. It creates a barrier to receiving information about mental health. It is necessary to address chronic mental health issues, but a shortage of reliable and relevant data puts programs on hold. Our government must enact comprehensive mental health laws, which may be in a very primordial sense. We may associate stigma with our politicians' unwillingness to invest in mental health. We see that there is less funding for mental health and of less priority, resulting in stoppage or programs on hold.
Our perception of mental illnesses falls trap of our refusal to engage in talks about them. Our stigmatizing beliefs reflect how we employ offensive terms to describe mentally ill people. Some find them dishonorable and undesirable. Some media reports don't help to raise awareness. It helps to flourish stigma toward people with mental illness when they commit crimes due to sensationalized stories. As a result, people with mental illnesses suffer long-term stigma and received derogatory attitudes and responses from the general public, which can exacerbate their mental health and jeopardize their physical and social well-being.
We can have an intervention to reduce stigma towards people with mental health. We can promote the correct information in the community, school, workplace, and even social media towards people with mental health. Education plays a critical role in curbing stigma toward people with mental illness. We can also raise public awareness about mental health issues. Creating activities that integrate culture and the arts is a more engaging and involved way to raise mental health awareness.
Kalpana Srivastava, Suprakash Chaudhury,and P. S. Bhat, and Swaleha Mujawar, Media and mental health, Industrial Psychiatry Journal, NCBI
John Lally, John Tully, and Rene Samaniego ,Mental health services in the Philippines, NCBI
Nicholle Mae Amor Tan Maravilla1† and Myles Joshua Toledo Tan, Philippine Mental Health Act: Just an Act? A Call to Look Into the Bi-directionality of Mental Health and Economy, Frontier in Pschology
Mohit Varshney et. at., Violence and mental illness: what is the true story?, Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health
Taneasha White, Overcoming the Stigma That Unfairly Links Violence and Mental Illness, Very Well Mind
Photo Description and Credit:
Faces and Poses of Mental Illness | Photos from Aseemiya, Free-Photos/Pixabay, Avi Chomotovski, ID-422694/Pixabay, Małgorzata Tomczak, 52Hertz/Pixabay, StockSnap/Pixabay, StockSnap/Pixabay, and Jerzy Górecki