Looking into Male Mental Health – Blog 8: Stigma in Mental Health

Hello and Welcome to Sweeney’s Blogs!

Today’s blog is going to be the eighth blog in my Looking into Male Mental Health series and is going to look into stigma in relation to mental health. Today’s blog is going to talk about what stigma is in relation to mental health, what causes it and how it affects people suffering from Mental Health problems.

First of all, we are going to talk about what stigma is in relation to Mental Health. The website Health Direct, https://www.healthdirect.gov.au/stigma, describes stigma as ” a mark, a stain or a blemish”. Stigma occurs when “negative opinions, judgments or stereotypes” are targeted at people who are experiencing or have experienced Mental health problems.

It is clear to see that stigmas do not have any positive effects on people who suffer from Mental Health problems, they only add to their problems. It is this point that raises the question why does this stigma actually exist? It is possible to link the existence of this stigma to many different sources but after doing research there are two main causes of the stigma, the media and lack of understanding.

People who suffer from Mental Health problems are often labeled as being violent and dangerous in the media and are commonly associated with crime. In reality, people who do suffer from Mental Health problems are more likely to be victims of crime rather than a perpetrator. This is just one of the reasons why this stigma surrounding people and Mental Health needs to change, people are usually just working off assumptions, not actually looking at the facts surrounding the matter.

An article published by the Time to Change organization, https://www.time-to-change.org.uk/media-centre/responsible-reporting/violence-mental-health-problems, talks about the facts surrounding Violence and Mental Health. In this article, they talk about the British Crime Survey and how the responses from this survey further back up the point that the stigma surrounding Mental health needs to be changed quickly.

The British Crime Survey results show us that around 47% of crime is done by people who are believed to be under the influence of alcohol. This figure alone should act as an eye opener, nearly half of all the crimes committed are often done by someone under the influence of alcohol. The survey also tells us that around 17% of crimes are committed by someone who is believed to be under the influence of drugs.

Surprisingly the survey shows us that only 1% of crimes are committed by someone who is believed to be suffering from a Mental Health condition. These statistics clearly prove that the majority of people who are suffering from Mental Health conditions are not usually dangerous or violent, they are more likely to be the victim fo a crime.

If we add the two statistics for people being under the influence of alcohol and then the people who were under the influence of drugs, it equals 64%. 64% of crimes are believed to be committed by someone who is either under the influence of drugs or alcohol. When we compare this to people who commit a crime with a Mental Health condition we see that there is a 63% difference. It is 63% more likely that a crime has been committed by someone under the influence of drugs or alcohol rather than someone suffering from a mental illness.

Lack of understanding is the other major cause of the stigma surrounding Mental Healths existence. A lack of understanding can often be the main cause of a lot of problems in modern day society. It is often brought up that if you haven’t actually experienced or researched a mental health condition then you cannot actually understand it.

Mental health is such a large topic to look at that, unfortunately, people do end up just assuming that they understand it when in reality they have no idea. The fact that the majority of Mental Health issues can usually be talked through is often overlooked in society. Personally, I have had people tell me that I am too young to have any problems or that I have no valid reason to say that I have a Mental Health condition. It is these people who only fuel the fire that is Mental Health when really they should be helping us extinguish it.

When I was originally planning this blog I was going to do a large section on the effects that the stigma actually has on people suffering from a Mental Health condition but now looking back I feel like it is better to cover in its own blog.  I will briefly touch on some of the effects in this blog but will leave the in-depth explanations for a later blog.

The stigma surrounding Mental Health mainly affects peoples self-esteem. The stigma leads to people feeling like they are being judged constantly simply for having a Mental health problem. This feeling of being judged is only going to lower the person’s self-esteem which could lead to them experiencing more problems. This can develop a very dangerous cycle involving mental health which could end with someone getting hurt.

The feeling of being judged can also lead people to begin to isolate themselves. People tend to stop seeking treatment and support when they are scared of being judged. This approach leads to more and more problems. This can create another dangerous cycle where people just add more problems on top of the problems they already have. If they stop getting help to work through these problems then eventually they will break.

That’s all I want to talk about in today’s blog. What do you all think? Did you know about the stigma surrounding Mental Health before reading this blog? If so where did you find out about it? If not was it a useful thing to learn? how could we go about getting rid of this stigma? Is it a personal problem or a problem for society as a whole? let me know what you think in the comments or by getting in touch with me!

Thank you all for reading! Please let me know what you all think. I appreciate all feedback be it positive or negative! If you have a minute or two spare then please leave a rating on the blogs Facebook page, it lets me see if I’m doing a good job or not! Thanks for reading and I hope you’ll visit the page again,

Sweeney’s Blogs

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James Sweeney

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