Essay on How Stigma and Discrimination Effect Mental Illness

2266 Words 10 Pages
Mental illness is a term which is used when a persons mind is affected in some way by a group of illnesses (Ministry of Health [MOH], 2012).
People with mental health issues have been viewed and treated in a variety of ways within western society throughout time. Historically if an individual displayed behaviours which disrupted their function in society and defied social norms they were viewed as lunatics, insane or even cursed (Cowan, 2008; Elder & Evans & Nizette, 2009). It is from these past issues that many people still have unreasonable thoughts about mental illness; their misconceptions have created unreasonable fears and negative attitudes toward those who experience it. This negativity brings for many the barriers of not only
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The effects of self-stigma can lead to a lack of self esteem, lack of confidence, isolation and the increased likelihood of avoiding professional help for their illness. This then has an over all affect on quality of life and where one sees themselves fitting within society (Barney, Griffiths, Jorm & Christensen, 2005; Griffiths & Christensen, 2004; Newell & Gournay, 2000).
Legislation in New Zealand such as The Human Rights Act 1993, section 21 and the Employment Rights Act 1997 are in place to prohibit the discrimination on the grounds of mental illness in areas such as housing, training, education and employment. The incidence of stigma and discrimination in these areas is however still continuing to be an issue for those with a mental illness. It has become apparent through large amounts of research that most incidences of stigma and discrimination are usually reported through research studies and surveys (Peterson & Barnes & Duncan 2008; Newell & Gournay, 2000). El-Badri & Mellsop (2007) suggest that most research on stigma tends to center on attitudes and beliefs of the public and how they view those with a mental illness. Much less emphasis on research has involved the personal experience, self-stigma and quality of life of the person with the illness and how they fit within the community. Badri & Mellsop's (2007) study Stigma and quality of life as experienced by…