Stigma around mental health

Stigma is an important factor that help conviction or otherwise shape whether individuals consider seeking treatment for mental health problems. According to sociologists, stigma is an attribute that spoils a person’s identity, reducing him or her in others’ minds from a whole and normal person to a tainted and discounted one. Due to the stigma that is still prevalent in our society, only 10-12 % of these sufferers will seek help to avoid attention to themselves. It has been observed that there is constant judgment and fear of people towards mental health concerns. In order to tackle the burden of mental health in India, we need to address stigma and awareness as two interlinked issues.

If individuals continue to view mental health with resistance and apprehension, it will be difficult to seek the support that is required. It is crucial to provide social support and best possible care for sufferers. There have been feelings of indifference, sympathy and also feelings of fear and hatred towards people facing mental health issues which makes it all the more difficult to attain a normal state. This admission of the general public towards mental health indicates the pervasiveness of stigma in our society today. According to Graham C.L. Davey, mental health stigma is characterised by two distinct types:

  • Social Stigma
  • Self-stigma.

Social stigma, also called public stigma, involves the prejudiced attitudes that others have around mental illness. For example, people with mental illnesses are considered crazy, weird and are always dangerous and violent for the society.

Perceived stigma, also called self-stigma, involves an internalized stigma that the person with mental illness suffers from. For example, a person living with mental illness may mistakenly believe that his/her condition is a sign of personal weakness or that she/he should be able to control it.

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