Importance Of Stigma And Mental Illness

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Running head: STIGMA AND MENTAL ILLNESS 1
STIGMA AND MENTAL ILLNESS 5
Stigma and Mental Illness
Barbara A. O’Brien
Moraine Valley Community College

Stigma and Mental Illness
According to the World Health Organization, more than 450 million people worldwide have been diagnosed with a mental illness” (“Mental Disorders”, 2001, para. 1). Research has documented a significant relationship between mental illness and stigma. “Stigma is defined as a sign of disgrace or discredit, which sets a person apart from others. The stigma of mental illness, although more often related to context than to a person’s appearance, remains a powerful negative attribute in all social relations” (Byrne, 2000, p. 65).
Summary
Stigma, in some respects, may be just another name for stereotyping and discriminating against others who are ill. Unlike physical illness, mental illness is still perceived as an indulgence, a sign of weakness (Byrne, 2000). The experience of stigma includes shame, blame, secrecy, the “black sheep of the family” role, isolation, social exclusion, stereotypes, and discrimination. In an effort to make a change in how mental illness is perceived and diminish stigma, it must begin with changing psychiatry first (Byrne, 2000). “Antipathies to psychiatry and psychiatrists are widespread among the medical profession, but perhaps the real issue is that the majority of psychiatrists fail to challenge these prejudices” (Byrne, 2000, p. 69).
In addition to the changing

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