A more accepting age? Why stigma is nowhere near a thing of the past

For how many other illnesses would you have to wait 15 months or more for treatment to even begin, unless you were on death’s door? In treating how many other illnesses do we neglect to give patients a range of treatment options? How many other illnesses cost the economy over £100 billion a year, according to the Centre for Mental Health, but are only allocated spending of just £11.3 billion a year? 25% of our population experiences mental health problems each year, and yet mental illness (including dementia), is allocated just 13% of NHS funding.
Despite a rising demand for services, mental health funding has seen a real-terms cut of 2% in the past 2 years.
Fewer than 4 in 10 employers say that they would employ someone with mental health problems (http://www.mind.org.uk/media/1081517/Mind-Manifesto-Jun14.pdf) and yet we have people writing articles saying that there is no longer a stigma around mental health!
Even on a cultural basis, as purplepersuasion quite rightly points out, we jokingly call people ‘mental’ or ‘psychotic’ if they act strangely, we say that we’re ‘depressed’ if we’re having a bad day, we make jokes about suicide, self-harm and ‘mental patients’. We make parties themed around ‘looney bins’ and victorian asylums – and we assume that people with psychosis are violent and dangerous.
So not only does the stigma most definitely exist, but its prevalence in our general consciousness has filtered through to adversely effect actual treatment of real mental health patients. It’s basically a fucking disgrace!

purplepersuasion

STIGMA

  1. fig. A mark of disgrace or infamy; a sign of severe censure or condemnation, regarded as impressed on a person or thing; a ‘brand’.

Example: 1882   J. H. Blunt Reformation Church of Eng. II. 172   Branded with the stigma of illegitimacy.

Oxford English Dictionary

 

I’m particularly lucky where stigma is concerned. Despite having had bipolar since early adolescence, generally I have not experienced much stigma and discrimination. Some of it is to do with how open I am (it’s harder for someone to attack you if anything they could potentially use against you is already out in the open) but some of it must just be pure lucky because almost everyone I know who has a mental health condition has experienced much worse stigma. I know people who have been turned down at interview or hounded out of jobs, people who rejected by friends and family, people verbally…

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