Why is there still a stigma associated with mental illnesses?

Booze in Japan
Centralia, Missouri
January 5, 2016 7:15pm CST
Let me ask you a question, how many of you have or know someone who has gotten sick? Everyone? Next question. How many of you have or know someone with a chronic illness, like diabetes, something they have to deal with all of their life? I bet most of you. Do you think these are things to be ashamed of, something to hide? No? So why is mental illness seen that way by so many? How is needing help/medication for mental things a bad thing? Many insurances won't even cover some of that, and frankly.... I just bet that EVERYONE of us has a bit of or has a bit of a mental illness at some point in your life. Yes, I think we are all a little touched in the head... My point is....why is there still a stigma with mental illness? Why can't someone say they have an appointment with their psychologist, and it mean no more to people than someone having a dental appointment?
55 people like this
45 responses
@yukimori (9040)
• United States
6 Jan 16
I think a lot of it is just plain misinformation and not understanding exactly what it means to have a mental illness. I can't tell you the number of times I've seen or heard of instances where someone tells someone who's depressed that they just have to choose to be happy and all their problems will be solved. Think on the bright side, you don't have it as bad as so-and-so whose problems are much worse and therefore more real than your own, and let's not forget those who think it's done all for the attention, right? People don't realize exactly how damaging that sort of attitude can be. Personally, I find it very similar to the issues that arise from living with an invisible chronic illness. I've been told by doctors that the pain I feel is all in my head, and that I basically need to suck it up and exercise more. It didn't matter to them that my symptoms get worse with exercise. They couldn't see a physical reason for it, so clearly it was all in my head or I was making it up because I wanted to abuse painkillers. I have issues with people touching me because I'm so sensitive some days. Just the other day, I had someone walk past me and gently touch my back as I was bending over. It was excruciating, and I told him so... and his response was "I barely touched you!" I honestly believe that there's a lot of things that you can't fully understand until you've personally lived through them. Mental illnesses are one of those things. It's easy for someone who's 'normal' to snap out of it, and there seems to be a disconnect between what they know versus what others say they're experiencing. Seems like not a lot of folks know how to put themselves in someone else's shoes, unfortunately. And that's not even touching on how horribly the mentally ill were treated in the past...
17 people like this
@slund2041 (3380)
• United States
6 Jan 16
@DaddyEvil I did not realize you had cancer. What kind of cancer do you have? I am so sorry you are suffering like this.
7 people like this
• Centralia, Missouri
6 Jan 16
ouch, well I hope somewhere, soon this is figured out for you. that kind of thing is real, no matter what they say
8 people like this
@DaddyEvil (23992)
• Aurora, Missouri
6 Jan 16
@yukimori Yes, Yuki, I have tried other remedies for the pain. Unfortunately, several of them caused mental problems. (I was taking one such when I started here on myLot. You noticed I got lost a lot? I'm sure you noticed that. Well.... It is also the reason I can't maneuver very well here, too. I get lost and forget how to do things on myLot. ) When I have to use it, I don't see the emoji's, but I am so used to adding them to my own comments now I still add them. Sometimes I look at what I wrote and wonder why nobody has called a psychiatrist on me because they make no sense, but people laugh and act like I was joking when I was really giving real data with the wrong emoji's added. I am moving the rest I had written to the pm's. I will send it to you.
7 people like this
@Auntylou (4320)
• Oxford, England
6 Jan 16
Maybe it is because mental illnesses affect our brains and affect all our relationships in ways that illnesses in other parts of our bodies do not. These illnesses may cause bizarre and even dangerous behaviour and are therefore seen as shameful and evil. It is also true that until relatively recently it was not possible to see activity in the brain and our knowledge of how it worked very limited Hopefully things will continue to improve :
13 people like this
• Centralia, Missouri
6 Jan 16
I think it's also in part because it's hard to see the "symptoms" sometimes. You have a broken leg, xray, look broken. you have a broken mind...what test is there for that? We need to do more studying of brains, with mapping, and chemical tests and all kinds of things.
10 people like this
@LeaPea2417 (19750)
• Toccoa, Georgia
6 Jan 16
Yes, mentally ill people usually are the ones that can kill others like in mass shootings, that is why it is hard for me to be sympathetic to them. I do wish they could get the psychological help that they need to be truly treated, so they could live a normal life.
7 people like this
@ramapo17 (23222)
• Melbourne, Florida
6 Jan 16
Alztheirmers and dementia are mental conditions. I lived with it with my mom and I know first hand how this disease acts and the craziness it brings. It is not a very pleasant disease as none of them are but if you don't know a person has it you cannot see it unless you are with them for some time. Also most of the medicines that the doctors give the patient does nothing! I also witnessed that.
8 people like this
@LadyDuck (151501)
• Switzerland
6 Jan 16
I do not know the reason, but you are perfectly right, there is no reason to be ashamed to say that they have to see their psychologist. Our head and brain are part of our body exactly as our heart, liver, hands, feet and everything else.
12 people like this
• Centralia, Missouri
6 Jan 16
And the mind affects our general health and wellbeing!
10 people like this
@LadyDuck (151501)
• Switzerland
6 Jan 16
@Jessicalynnt So true, our brain is so powerful to make us feel sick or good, without apparent reasons.
9 people like this
• Centralia, Missouri
8 Jan 16
@LadyDuck it can fool us into thinking we are sick, or even make us sick!
5 people like this
@LoriAMoore (4859)
• United States
6 Jan 16
I am very open about my Depression and those people that look at me sideways when I say I have a psychiatrist appointment can just keep looking as I walk away from them.
10 people like this
• Centralia, Missouri
6 Jan 16
Good for you! Sad that people can't just learn to adapt.
6 people like this
@vandana7 (63511)
• India
6 Jan 16
People need something to feel better about, and there are two ways to do that. .one is to truly achieve something and feel good about it, and the other is to look down on somebody who is not on par about something. No prizes for guessing which requires less effort. As to diabetes, blah blah..everybody has a close relative of friend or loved one with something or the other like that. But not every person dares to go to psychiatrist. Note what I mentioned. I think everybody EVERYBODY has moments when they feel in dumps and could do with a psychiatrist's help. Some need help, others manage to come out of it because of the right support and environment they are lucky enough to get in time. Either mental illness does not exist or it is more insidious than we give it credit for. We do need to understand the science more - you diagnose it using chemicals x rays and what nots to decide this happens and causes for it to get it classified as a disease. For now treatment is itself not really definite though better than what it was in the past. Another thing people ridicule about is not having children, if you'd noticed. Pancreas can fail, liver can fail, heart can fail, but uterus has no business to fail.
9 people like this
• Centralia, Missouri
6 Jan 16
I would avoid the word shrink, it's a bit offensive to some mind doctors, heh. But I agree, I think it is much more insidious than people realize, I think everyone needs help now and then, and I do think that it should be much easier to get help. and you are right about the kids thing, hadn't even thought about that, that is also looked down on.
7 people like this
@vandana7 (63511)
• India
11 Jan 16
@Jessicalynnt ..Getting help right at the moment matters. If I need help, and I get it about 10 years down the lane, it would be too late. By the time my personality would have already undergone some changes. From whom also matters. Everybody has a list of folks who they think will never fail them. But when they do and all other factors being bad like financial problems, health problems, love problems, career problems, then chances are that this person will cross the boundaries. Such a person needs help from the expected set of folks in the right way too. Not scold reprimand or what not. But rational approach. When it is 10 years too late, then psychiatrist has to step in to undo each other thing that came in between and which the mind sorted wrongly.
2 people like this
• Centralia, Missouri
12 Jan 16
@vandana7 that is a super good point, and one you should write your own posts about. Those paths in our mind get set in deeper and deeper, they are much easier to change early on, rather than later.
2 people like this
@CharHC (19)
• United States
6 Jan 16
There are a few reasons I think. Some valid, some not so much. But here they are. 1. Some mental illnesses cause violence and make a person dangerous. Unfortunately these few disorders are staining all disorders, mostly because of #2. 2. People that have never experienced a mental disorder simply don't understand what it means to those that do. They watch movies, read books, or hear news of someone with a dangerous mental illness, and think that all mental illness eventually leads there. 3. Because those of us that suffer are ashamed that we are not "normal enough", so we hide it, deny it, refuse to seek help, and constantly put ourselves in destructive situations or behaviors that others see without knowing the reasoning. By the time they find out that there was a problem, all they have to associate with the illness is the bad things we did to ourselves and others trying to hide our shame and fear. Until those that suffer can stand up and demand that media recognizes the difference between depression and psychosis, and explain it better when they are talking about the very few dangerous mental illnesses, until we stop hiding from ourselves and others and get the help we need, the stigma can not be reduced. And it will never be erased entirely, not everyone is strong, and not everyone cares about knowledge, after all.
9 people like this
@mommaj (22709)
• United States
6 Jan 16
I like your reasons, but they should be reasons people can get help. If the people got help then they wouldn't be violent or dangerous? I think maybe ignorance of the unknown causes others to be so cruel.
3 people like this
• Centralia, Missouri
6 Jan 16
good reasons, would like to also add, 1. too expensive to get help, so it gets normal to be swept under the rug. 2. other people around those who need help have their own hidden issues, so often cant/wont help/deal with those who are trying to get help (ie sometimes people need more patience and compassion).
4 people like this
@ramapo17 (23222)
• Melbourne, Florida
6 Jan 16
@mommaj That is so true mommaj. People are so easy to criticize or stay away from subjects they do not understand. If they are not a family member or a good friend they really don't care what someone is going through. They just use their own thoughts and ignore the situations.
4 people like this
@DaddyEvil (23992)
• Aurora, Missouri
6 Jan 16
I can't believe you wrote about this topic! @Jessicalynnt Very nice! Most people wouldn't touch this topic with a ten foot pole! I think it is mostly because the common man doesn't understand what is happening with a person who has a mental illness, so doesn't know that it is okay to treat the mentally ill/disabled like other people because they are still just people. Insurance companies have always tried to get out of paying for anything. They will use anything as an excuse, too!
8 people like this
@mommaj (22709)
• United States
6 Jan 16
I didn't even go through to read the comments until you left one under mine. That's really scary. Next time I will have too. Maybe you are my long lost twin no one knew I had including my parents.
6 people like this
• Centralia, Missouri
6 Jan 16
lol, I will write about just about anything!
6 people like this
@DaddyEvil (23992)
• Aurora, Missouri
6 Jan 16
@Jessicalynnt Yeah, I was looking at some of your other posts and realized that!
5 people like this
@trivia79 (7918)
• El Segundo, California
6 Jan 16
It's a reality that society still don't accept the person with mental illness as a normal individual. We have still a big and strong notion that those having this can mess-up in some ways.
8 people like this
• Centralia, Missouri
6 Jan 16
when in reality everyone has touches of it now and then, and everyone messes up anyways!
7 people like this
@trivia79 (7918)
• El Segundo, California
6 Jan 16
@Jessicalynnt Sorry! I didn't get what you mean
5 people like this
• Centralia, Missouri
8 Jan 16
@trivia79 oh just that everyone messes up, both those with mental illnesses and those with none
3 people like this
• United States
6 Jan 16
@Jessicalynnt I am open about my Mental Health Issues and could care less what others think most of the time. That said I didn't always feel that way. Largely because too many of those who are leaders don't understand that the problem is not the disease but the lack of proper treatment. Most of the big headline violence pointed to with mental illness is because of a lack of treatment. Just as Cancer, Diabetes and other medical conditions get worse and cause pain, Mental Illnesses left untreated and cared for will cause pain. I knew someone who had a seizure while driving and caused an accident. It was discovered that they had an untreated health concern that caused it. A person who does not get proper care for Mental Health problems can be an accident waiting to happen in much the same way. When a Politician links problems to Mental Illness in a blanket fashion they feed the Stygma that so often prevents a person from seeking help.
8 people like this
@DaddyEvil (23992)
• Aurora, Missouri
6 Jan 16
You sound like my daughter, now. Thank you for the Suggest! I appreciate it! Good discussion!
6 people like this
• Centralia, Missouri
6 Jan 16
you are getting me exactly, I think these kinds of things need to have the same care and treatment as a medical condition, there should be no difference with attention and insurance, need a mind dr? go. Need a tooth dr? Go.
6 people like this
@vandana7 (63511)
• India
11 Mar 16
@Jessicalynnt ..You are making me rethink and come up with a post...I just might...but I will wait till I read some more.
2 people like this
@marlina (72515)
• Canada
6 Jan 16
I think it is because those people never put themselves in their shoes. Also a lack of education on the topic.
8 people like this
• Centralia, Missouri
6 Jan 16
Also very true!
6 people like this
@ramapo17 (23222)
• Melbourne, Florida
6 Jan 16
That is so true. Some people that do not understand something are the first people to put others down about it.
3 people like this
@Plethos (10233)
• United States
6 Jan 16
its a tricky illness to treat. i dont know about a stigma attached to it, i just never looked at it that way. i know a lot of people who are involved with the county mental health department over here. from administrators to the doctors. the main problem they see is funding for the program and finding ways to help people maintain the help. which is finding ways for them to afford the care they need.
8 people like this
• Centralia, Missouri
6 Jan 16
I think there shouldn't be, there is no reason for, but even looking at insurance you can tell there is. I can go to the DR as many times as I want, I could not go to the counselor like that, AND the second would be tons more expensive. This is sad to me because many times our mind and our moods influence our health!
6 people like this
@ramapo17 (23222)
• Melbourne, Florida
6 Jan 16
@Jessicalynnt That is absolutely right.
6 people like this
@mommaj (22709)
• United States
6 Jan 16
I think other people don't accept mental illness because they are ignorant of the disease. First people don't accept what they don't understand. If they understood the problems are more than "in your head" they would realize that people needed medical help, therapies, etc. Hopefully, education will help. As for the insurance, they don't want to pay for anything anyway. I think it is just an easy out for them.
7 people like this
@DaddyEvil (23992)
• Aurora, Missouri
6 Jan 16
LOL! Almost what I said, too! @mommaj
6 people like this
@mommaj (22709)
• United States
6 Jan 16
@DaddyEvil That is so scary, because I didn't go through looking at the other comments.
5 people like this
@DaddyEvil (23992)
• Aurora, Missouri
6 Jan 16
@mommaj Yeah, I don't look at them either before giving my response, either. It makes the thread more fun! I usually treat a thread as if nothing below where I am commenting to has been written yet. That's why I "Like" every comment on a thread when I have time to read all of them. I use the "Like" button as a placeholder so I can easily find where I was at when I had to do something else.
5 people like this
@celticeagle (117561)
• Boise, Idaho
6 Jan 16
I have a lot of issues with this very thing. Mental illness has a bad stigma attached because of ignorance and because people feel that those with these issues could go nutzy and blow them up. People don't take enough time to update themselves on mental illness so they are flying blind as it were and think they know all of the answers. I could tell you long, drawn out stories of my and my families experiences. ODD, bi-polar and sever depression Fun.
7 people like this
• Centralia, Missouri
6 Jan 16
You know I read a study once (and while I disagree with statistics on principle, need to know more about the parameters before I will believe a thing) I found if fascinating that they pointed out there are MANY high functioning psychopaths in big businesses, just because they have no empathy and that mindset does not mean they go commit crimes. Not every mental illness is a one way ticket to a bomb vest or something bad. Thanks Hollywood.
5 people like this
@celticeagle (117561)
• Boise, Idaho
6 Jan 16
@Jessicalynnt ..There was a post on this site back in the golden age about a women who finally left her husband because he had a mental illness where he had no emotion, didn't care about his wife or kids. Very sad. Takes all kinds to make this world we live in.
6 people like this
• Centralia, Missouri
6 Jan 16
@celticeagle there are some, and I hope she was able to heal and he was able to get help
4 people like this
@thesids (22359)
• Bhubaneswar, India
6 Jan 16
Interesting. For one, I have Ulcerative Colitis and now I also have its sister - Arthritis. Going by doctors who are treating me, neither of them is going to leave me. So definitely I have chronic ailments and it all started in 2000. So about 16 years of it already with me. Now to the stigma part - As a patient, I understand that initially when these were new to me, I was ashamed. Not anything stigma per se, but you know, the cramps in the tummy, the frequency/urge to go to the loo - and everyone asking are you all right. And when I mentioned the UC thing, they came up with bizarre things as not many people understand it. It might have been easier if I would have said, Heart Attack, or even Diabetes or even anything like Malaria etc (the ones that are commonly known). Then, one day, I realized that I cannot battle it. I have to adjust, accommodate with it (The UC) and I have been happier since. Agreed, I am jobless - because I do not want to be a burden on a 9-5 job wherein the Employer would either sack me because I spend more time in loo than on desk/even there are days when I cannot go to work - lack of commitment. Or if the employer is understanding, it would be my guilt - he trusts me, and I am unable to deliver on time. That kind of. So I decided not to do any regular job with fixed timings. Now coming to the stigma part - I think in many normal people, it is their own self conscious rather than the society that makes the stigma thing felt. Mental Illness, I do not think any of them ever feel it - they are happy, more honest with their own self. And others around them, I do not think they are worthy of discussion, in case they feel being hit by the stigma. Many normal people have their own limitations and perceptions of viewing things as they want to, not as per what they should.
6 people like this
• Centralia, Missouri
6 Jan 16
Very well put. I also think shame is part of this, if we accept mental illness, people might think we have one...and we probably do. The whole "he doth protest too much" thing
6 people like this
@thesids (22359)
• Bhubaneswar, India
6 Jan 16
@Jessicalynnt Yes, it is the thing like - Oh so you are consulting a Psychiatrist! But they forget that psychiatrist is just another doctor - someone like the one who cures asthma, or even malaria. In my personal opinion, all of us, who are not actually medically mentally ill are more ill than anyone of them. At least they are honest- something that most of us hesitate being. They love you genuinely, and we mostly love out of some need.
5 people like this
• Centralia, Missouri
8 Jan 16
@thesids I like that, about them being less ill because they are honest about the fact they need help!
4 people like this
@cacay1 (32741)
• Cagayan De Oro, Philippines
6 Jan 16
They are ashamed if known about their mental problem.
6 people like this
• Centralia, Missouri
6 Jan 16
and they shouldn't be, nor more than someone with cancer.
6 people like this
@cacay1 (32741)
• Cagayan De Oro, Philippines
7 Jan 16
@Jessicalynnt, True , we need someone to lessen our burden.
1 person likes this
@JudyEv (121015)
• Bunbury, Australia
6 Jan 16
There is certainly still a lot of stigma attached to mental conditions. We have several rellies who need help in this way.
5 people like this
• Centralia, Missouri
6 Jan 16
I think most families have some, and many have one who needs but does not get
4 people like this
@Auntylou (4320)
• Oxford, England
6 Jan 16
Rellies as in relatives?@JudyEv
2 people like this
@JudyEv (121015)
• Bunbury, Australia
6 Jan 16
@Auntylou Sorry, Janet. Yes, relatives including a son.
2 people like this
@just4him (112733)
• Green Bay, Wisconsin
6 Jan 16
I think it's because we don't want people to think we are mentally incompetent.
5 people like this
@ramapo17 (23222)
• Melbourne, Florida
6 Jan 16
True. To many people are afraid of what others might think of them.
5 people like this
• Delhi, India
6 Jan 16
you have no idea how people take mental illness here(the place i belong). For them it is nothing less than madness, they consider the sufferer as RETARD! may be it is because of less knowledge or their typical thinking but you are right everybody falls sick it may be mentally or physically and people should try to understand that.
4 people like this
• Centralia, Missouri
6 Jan 16
I know, I wrote this and didn't mention it, but I know in many countries it's even worse. People with these could be considered to be possessed, or something even worse, when they just need meds or therapy
2 people like this
@ramapo17 (23222)
• Melbourne, Florida
6 Jan 16
@Jessicalynnt That's scary.
3 people like this
• Delhi, India
7 Jan 16
@jessicalynnt yes you are absolutely right they think that the sufferer is possessed or he/she is totally mad! But someday or the other people will change society will change and the sufferers may get the deserved attention, love and care.. hope for the best!!! that is all we can do
3 people like this
@FourWalls (13248)
• United States
6 Jan 16
The stigma, perpetuated for centuries by books, movies, etc., is so firmly engrained in our collective minds that it's nearly impossible to get away with. There are hundreds of different "mental illnesses," and 99.999% of them are NOT the things that have been portrayed on TV and in movies.
4 people like this
• Centralia, Missouri
6 Jan 16
pretty much. plus all people see from Hollywood are the outside symptoms, not the actual problem
1 person likes this
@ramapo17 (23222)
• Melbourne, Florida
6 Jan 16
You are right there. My one son-in-law was bipolar and I never knew anything about that disease. I just thought he was crazy. I started learning more about the disease and even though he had the medication for this, he refused to take them and eventually he got so bad and I feared for my daughters life and grand children. They moved in with me and he moved out of the country.
2 people like this
@Susan2015 (20383)
• United States
6 Jan 16
Some just don't seem to understand or they don't want to. They don't want to be around anyone who might be ill like that. Hiding from it doesn't make it go away. ,,Most of usl I think deal with some kind of mental illness whether it be family, friends or even people you barely know.
4 people like this
@ramapo17 (23222)
• Melbourne, Florida
7 Jan 16
I agree with you there. So many families hide it from everyone and we really don't know the ones that really have an issue. Could be if we knew we might be able to offer some suggestions about getting help.
2 people like this