The Consequences of Stigma
As a result of the negative stereotype of mental illness, people with these disorders who accept their diagnosis are likely to see themselves as incapable and worthless. Out of a sense of shame they may withdraw socially, give up on their careers or academic and marriage plans and, seeing themselves as hopeless cases, they may become more dependent on others in their lives. As a result, when the person with the illness has insight into his or her diagnosis and condition, this can lead to a worse outcome from the illness—that's just the opposite of what we hope for. A solution is to help the person regain a sense of power and self-worth. One way to do this is help him or her find work or some other productive activity. We, at the Recovery Trust, see productive opportunities as central to the process of recovery from mental illness.
Click here to learn more about our vocational programs.
School Health Curricula
Another consequence of stigma is that school health curricula in the US almost never include information about serious mental illness, despite the fact that just about everyone in our society has a connection to someone with some sort of psychiatric disability. This leads to a national ignorance about the nature of mental illness. Many parents fail to recognize the symptoms of psychotic disorders in their offspring and, if they do, feel too stigmatized to seek treatment. Once in treatment, both family members and the patient may resist the diagnosis. They often do not realize that the illness is treatable and assume that the prognosis is far worse than, in fact, it is.
Communication from hospital and clinic staff to family members is often severely restricted, sometimes exaggerated, by the necessity for compliance with statutory confidentiality requirements. As a result, communication can be grossly inadequate. The result of all of these problems is poor individual and family decision-making—sometimes failure to follow treatment recommendations or to take prescribed medications reliably.
Family members often feel too stigmatized to talk to friends and get support, despite experiencing great distress. There are few sources of reliable information about how family members may help a person with mental illness, whether or not he or she is in treatment.
Click here to learn more about programs to provide support and education for families.
We, at the Recovery Trust, see productive opportunities as central to the process of recovery from mental illness.
School health curricula in the US almost never include information about serious mental illness.