Albeit the progress society has made for these conditions, there’s still an unaddressed mental health stigma slithering around and skewing people’s perceptions.
Regardless of how normalized and socially accepted these conditions have become, a portion of society still looks at mentally unwell individuals with so much judgment. Most of this prejudice comes from the lack of understanding and knowledge, a relatively resolvable matter that can be addressed with education. Unfortunately, some come from more profound and inveterate belief systems that can be traced back to years of reinforcement, further cementing these views.
With the growing population suffering from the burden of their thoughts, many people have become more comfortable opening up and undoing their stringent and troubled minds. But what comes with such light is also a dimming adjacent to it. Although there’s an impressive change in how society views these affairs, this mental health stigma still contributes to the decay of some minds.
It’s unfortunate but unavoidable. With such a polarizing matter as mental health, there has been and ever will be a space sizeable enough for people to disagree and go against any development.
What Pulled Society Away From an Equitable Perception About Mental Health?
Mental health has come a long way since it was first observed centuries ago. The medical field has also, fortunately, progressed to fully understanding and separating physical and mental ailments. This led to better procedures for these disabilities. There’s already a more comprehensive perception of mental disorders and how they influence people. But before, these were deemed mere abnormalities, unusual behaviors that professionals sought to resolve through physical surgeries.
Unsurprisingly, this approach has only pulled the mental health system to more detrimental lows.
There’s no questioning that society’s initial means of addressing these illnesses have contributed to the mental health stigma weighing these suffering individuals down. They were either categorized as illegitimate concerns, a sign of insanity, or a behavioral manifestation of a physical ailment.
These brought forth misunderstandings and assumptions about the conditions – what further fueled the ever-pressing mental health stigma polluting society.
In fact, in The Asylum Scandals by Patricia Lubeck, the author documents the abuse, torture, murder, and corruption that happened within the walls of Minnesota’s State Hospitals. The book captures the horrors the mentally ill suffered at the hands of professionals who were supposed to help them. While Patricia focused on Minnesota, a similar situation happened throughout the mental health system. Although nobody is truly at fault for this slip because the lack of knowledge pushed the conception of asylums, its design shouldn’t be tolerated.
How Has History Fed the Present Mental Health Stigma in Today’s Society?
The crux of the matter about asylums is that they present the image of isolation, secluding the diagnosed from the others. While it’s not explicitly stated, this gives the impression that these individuals are consequentially different from the rest. This might have influenced people without any understanding of mental disorders to believe the diagnosed posed a danger.
The more secluded asylums treat the mentally ill, the more different they’re perceived to be. This can be comparable to the mental health stigma existing today. Albeit they aren’t seen as dangerous, those suffering from these conditions are still subconsciously treated as different, like a sore thumb sticking out within society. This is one of those butterfly effects, wherein the initial treatment left some remnants influencing people’s perception regardless of how developed society has become.
Throughout history, mental health stigma is said to be more prevalent than its physical counterpart. This is understandable and, perhaps, even reasonable. After all, what’s mental doesn’t have evident manifestations aside from behaviors and the choices people make. But these symptoms aren’t also easily pinpointed to sound illnesses as much as they seem like wrongful decisions and misdeeds.
History May Not Repeat Itself, but Its Impact Has Been Preserved
These inaccurate treatments and representations of mental issues have left an unfortunate mark on society. It won’t easily be removed as long as some continue cultivating these ideas about the marginalized.
As people paid more attention to extensive research about mental health, changes were made regarding its treatment. But the damage has already been done. The zeitgeist of how mental health was viewed has influenced the opinions of today. People may still face mental health stigma. This may have stopped being broadcast to the public, but it’s still present underneath the progressive exterior.
This stigma still exists behind closed doors and through discreet whispers whenever individuals attempt to fit in and interact with society. Like mold growing under people’s noses, mental health stigma will proliferate unless there’s enough force to counter it. Those with mental illness will still be viewed negatively and treated as lesser than others.
This stigma may be different, a little lighter than it was in the past. But this doesn’t discount its adverse effects on mental illness.