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Mental Illness and stigma within this country.

  • #1
    Registered Users Posts: 27,645 nesf

    Stigma is quite a loaded term but I can't think of a better one tbh. In this country, there is an expectation from people that one doesn't speak of having mental illness. Mentioning it in a job can get you fired (not always but sometimes). Socially it's something you have to hide.

    Why do people think such exists? Is there something unsettling about the idea of a person with mental illness? I came across an interesting idea today, the idea of us, as people, being conditioned to believe that we have complete freewill. That everything we do is a choice on our parts. Mental illness is a contradiction of this. People with OCD for instance might not be able to choose not to lock a door 7 times. A person with depression might be trapped within a mood without any way out of it by just thinking.

    This makes a lot of sense to me. I have heard people describe a depressed person as someone who refuses to snap out of it.

    Is there something deeply unsettling about a person whose mental free will is restricted so? Is something that people simply do not want to contemplate? Does it have implications of free will not being the unshakable truth that they wish it to be? Is the idea of freedom of thought something that people take for granted?

    From the patient's side. Does this stigma, or need to hide an illness, effect the person negatively? What does this do to a person's acceptance of said illness? Can it lead to denial from the person? If "society" does not wish to acknowledge this illness, what does this do the person?

    Are there psychological theories or investigations into this? Has there been any study of why mental illness can provoke such a reaction when other physical illnesses are accepted as a fact of life?


  • the problem is that people are afraid of things that they don't understand and i'v found they're is generally alot of misunderstanding out there around the whole subject.

    it probably al harkens back to the day when all people who we're "considered different" we're shipped off to instutitions and sometimes never heard from again. my granny's generation never talked about it all. she lived in a smallish rural community where everyone knew everyone else and knowone wanted to acknowledge someone with a mental illness was a relative/ friend of a friend.

    i'v met many wonderful people with mental illness as a result of doing OT. i have to say that doing the course has really opened my mind to it and i would like to work in the field when i qualify as i feel i can do a lot of work around improving the wellbeing of clients, eg through social groups, assertiveness training groups, relaxtation groups, and via general life mangement and coping skills.
    i must say though at the start i was abit anxious about mental health and going into locked wards, but now im actually looking forward to it and my next placement as i feel i can give a lot to these people. you can really make a difference and give hope to people who may not have any.

  • snorlax wrote:
    the problem is that people are afraid of things that they don't understand and i'v found they're is generally alot of misunderstanding out there around the whole subject.

    Is that the nail you just hit squarely on the head? I believe it is.

    Mental illness has only very recently been seen as an actual illness as opposed to someone being a threat to society. That being said most people don't encounter people with an obvious mental illness in day to day life. Most people's first reaction to someone with Tourette's walking down the street is probably to cross the road in case this "crazy" person is violent. Bizarre behaviour can be threatening for someone not used to it.

    Also it's my view that Irish society has always subscribed to the idea that you should bottle things up and not talk about it. If you're depressed you just stay depressed and go back to doing what you're doing. Plus the strong religious element to Irish society up until recently would have not seen mental illness as an illness but as something different. Phrases like "he's a bit touched" imply that it's something supernatural. And let's not think about how many people have been hurt or killed throughout the ages for talking in tongues or being possessed.

    *tries to veer back on topic*
    Basically I think ignorance is the biggest obstacle in removing the stigma from mental illness. Overcoming this would be a big step in helping people with mental illness in overcoming their problems whether it is OCD or depression or schizophrenia, once the people around you understand they'll know what to do and what not to do.

  • snorlax wrote:
    the problem is that people are afraid of things that they don't understand and i'v found they're is generally alot of misunderstanding out there around the whole subject.

    I don't think it's as simple as that. There is a lot of misunderstanding and a lot of misinformation on these topics, but I would think that there's something more to it than simply not understanding the topic.

    We have a tradition in this country of "keeping it in the family". The idea of speaking to anyone outside your family about it is alien to some people. Also I would raise the point that many people who have been presented with a lot of information on the topics, still have trouble believing it.

    It seems that people view mental illness as a polar topic. Either you are mentally ill and thus in a hospital over it or you are not. The idea of someone who can function, yet is limited, does not seem to be grasped firmly. There also seems to be a tendency for some people to dismiss mental illness as an excuse. Because they can't see what's wrong it they have trouble believing it's there. Yet, when one looks at other illnesses that don't give outward signs, people have no issue in believing it.

    It's easy to dismiss the stigma as a result of fear of the unknown, but I don't think that it's that simple. People don't understand many things in modern day, yet they might have no issue with them. Or they might be able to overcome this fear. In our modern day world there is much that people do not understand, but they don't necessarily fear them. I think in this case, there is something more that is causing the reaction.

    It's not just that people don't understand mental illness, they seem to refuse to understand it. It's what is causing this refusal that interests me.

  • I have many points and ramblings to make on this subject, but one thing stands out more than anything else, we still have an antiquated notion in this country to confine those who act outside the norm. No more so can this be seen, than in the relocation of Mount Joy prison and the Central Mental Hospita to the same site. Once the policy makers change their outlook and perception of mental illness and our awareness raised through education, that I believe, we will begin to overcome the stigma of mental illness in Ireland.

    It takes a second to stick a label on , if only it was as easy to remove one.

  • education is definetly needed to change attitudes. you really need to change the whole country's attitudue, probably the best way to start is to introduce it to the schools as a subject, and possibly get speakers to come in and talk to them.
    i had a few people come to talk to my class in transition year although it was very limited compared to what we learned in college.

    perphaps the media could be used aswell to educate people.

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