VOS: Breaking the Stigma: Understanding and Addressing Mental Disorders in Our Society

Breaking the Stigma: Understanding and Addressing Mental Disorders in Our Society

Psychology explained

April 2023

Breaking the Stigma: Understanding and Addressing Mental Disorders in Our Society

Stigma means label or mark. In relation to mental illnesses, a person is stigmatized when he is not perceived as a whole human being, but as a sum of symptoms of a certain disorder and a stereotype. This type of thinking about mental disorders in society has a negative impact not only on people who already suffer from them but also on those who are vulnerable to developing a mental illness.

Even though we speak about mental health more and more in the last few years, there is still a stigma about the other side of the spectrum. People often don't know how broad the category of mental illness is and what it can encompass. Not to mention other mental health problems that are not yet considered an illness, but can happen to anyone during challenging times in life, such as grieving irritability, or simple sadness or nervousness.

There is no question that mental health should be discussed openly and without prejudice. But we know that anyone can become ill themselves or meet someone who is struggling with mental health problems. According to the World Health Organisation:

  • Depression is one of the leading causes of disability.
  • Around 20% of the world’s children and adolescents have a mental health condition.
  • Suicide is the second leading cause of death among 15-29-year-olds.

The negative effect of discrimination against mental disorders:

  • feelings of guilt and shame
  • further exacerbation of mental health problems
  • isolation of the individual with mental health problems
  • delaying seeking professional help

How to fight the stigma

Talk openly about your feelings. It's normal not to feel good sometimes, and if you're in over your head and feel like you can't cope, don't be afraid to ask for help. Talk to your loved ones, text or call a crisis chat line, go to therapy. There is no shame in looking after your mental health, just as it is normal to look after your physical health.

Recommendations in conclusion:

Even the VOS app offers premium users the opportunity to talk to psychological counselors. Explore this option and talk about whatever is bothering you in an anonymous and safe environment.

We've also written another article about how to support a loved one suffering from mental illness. Read it here.

This text was written by our mental health expert. In addition to her expertise, we have used the following resources:

  1. Health Direct. (September, 2021). Mental illness stigma. Health Direct. Available on: https://www.healthdirect.gov.au/mental-illness-stigma#:~:text=Resources%20and%20support-,What%20is%20mental%20illness%20stigma%3F,a%20stain%20or%20a%20blemish
  2. WHO. (2023). Mental health: Burden. World Health Organization. Available on: https://www.who.int/health-topics/mental-health#tab=tab_2
  3. WHO. (2023). Mental health: Overview. World Health Organization. Available on: https://www.who.int/health-topics/mental-health#tab=tab_1

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