Stigma Essay

Essay on Mental Illness Stigma

Introduction: Stigma is based by society’s condemnation of one’s characteristics, beliefs and behaviours which do not fit in with social norms. Mental illness has been stigmatised in a negative way as people believe they are violent, uncontrollable and incompetent people. Society’s understanding of mental illness is highly limited and there is a need to learn to understand what stigma means and how they can help to assist and influence the recovery process. The key aspects discussed are that of understanding stigma and recovery and the influence stigma has on the recovery process.

Body: Many people do not completely understand how harmful and challenging stigma can be to the person suffering from a mental illness. It can contribute to extra stresses that can double the effect of their illness tremendously. Goffman (1967) defined social stigma as “the overt or covert disapproval expressed by a society of the personal characteristics, beliefs, behaviours, or conditions that are believed by that society to be at odds with social or cultural norms. ” An illustration of this is the challenges of stereotypes and prejudices that result from misconceptions about mental illness.

For example playing them out to be violent dehumanises their sense of being as they become feared and ridiculed by society. While this is the case within society there is also self-stigma with the person suffering from mental illness turn against themselves with prejudice which adds yet another stressful hurdle to leap over. These two examples of stigma demonstrates how a person with mental illness can be robbed of opportunities that defines a quality of life whether it be with maintaining a good job, safe housing or having satisfactory health care.

Equally important to understanding stigma is to understand the process of recovery and the barriers to recovery. -Understanding of Recovery -Discussion of the influence of stigma on recovery – the influence could be the barrier to recovery, strategies for changing society’s stigma, talk about the important role media plays within portraying mental illness References: Hungerford, C 2012, ‘An introduction for health professionals’, in Mental health care, Queensland, Australia, Stigma, Goffman (1967), pp. 8 NSW Consumer Advisory Group 2009, Literature review on recovery. Developing a recovery oriented service provider resource for community organisations literature.