“The most violent element in society is ignorance.” - Emma Goldman.
As May, Mental Health Awareness Month comes to an end, Avesta Ketamine & Wellness is focused on celebrating and supporting the greater conversation on mental health: stripping the stigma from this chronic health condition affecting millions of Americans.
In 2019, nearly 50 million adults in America reported suffering from mental illness; recorded at 19.8%, that's nearly one-fifth of U.S. adults (Mental Health America, 2022).
Interestingly, of that percentage, 24.7% of U.S. adults with a mental illness report an “unmet need for treatment”; nearly 60% of youths experiencing clinical depression in the U.S. are left untreated (Mental Health America, 2022). Such staggering numbers should prompt us to ask ourselves, “why?”.
Studies have shown that both the U.S. and Western European nations are known to stereotype and thus stigmatize mental illness (Link, 1987); “As a result of both, people with mental illness are robbed of the opportunities that define a quality life: good jobs, safe housing, satisfactory health care, and affiliation with a diverse group of people” (Corrigan, Watson, 2002). So, what does it mean to stigmatize?
Public stigma is defined as “a set of negative attitudes and beliefs that motivate individuals to fear, reject, avoid, and discriminate against people with mental illness ” (Corrigan, Penn, 1999). The public stigmatization of mental illness leads to a variety of social issues, especially including unmet needs for treatment; “Public stigma is a pervasive barrier that prevents many individuals in the U.S. from engaging in mental health care” (Parcesepe, Cabassa, 2014).
However, have you ever heard of “Self-stigma”? Self-stigma “is the prejudice which people with mental illness turn against themselves” (Corrigan, Watson, 2002). In many ways, it is a response to public stigma, which is fueled by prejudice, stereotypes, and discriminatory practices (Corrigan, Watson, 2022).
In his novel Talking to Strangers, Malcolm Gladwell dissects human behavior through our seemingly innate processes of “othering,” or rather, “the process whereby an individual or groups of people attribute negative characteristics to other individuals or groups of people that set them apart as representing that which is opposite to them” (Rohleder, 2014). Despite stating that our ability to believe the best in people is one of the foundational pillars of society, Gladwell acknowledges the impact of “othering,” particularly in modern Western society:
“The conviction that we know others better than they know us—and that we may have insights about them they lack (but not vice versa)—leads us to talk when we would do well to listen and to be less patient than we ought to be when others express the conviction that they are the ones who are being misunderstood or judged unfairly.” -Malcolm Gladwell, Talking To Strangers
In this way, recognizing the harmful consequences of “othering” may aid us in preventing it in the first place. In doing so, patients with mental illness will have the opportunity to freely speak on the truths of their realities in hopes of changing them. The prevention of harmful, discriminatory behavior is key - but what does that look like?
The first step is changing the discourse surrounding mental illness and health - but again, how? By raising awareness and representing the underrepresented, we can change the narrative. Supporting and participating in greater conversations surrounding mental health creates a platform where those suffering from mental illnesses can share their lived experiences.
By offering alternative, effective therapies and treatments for mental disorders like anxiety, depression, and chronic pain, Avesta Ketamine & Wellness prides itself on changing stereotypical narratives and combatting harmful rhetoric. Consider signing up for a consultation today - make your voice heard.
“There is no health without mental health.” (WHO)
Almost everywhere in the world, mental illness is a taboo subject. (n.d.). D+C. Retrieved May 18, 2022, from https://www.dandc.eu/en/article/almost-everywhere-world-mental-illness-taboo-subject
CORRIGAN, P. W., & WATSON, A. C. (2002). Understanding the impact of stigma on people with mental illness. World Psychiatry, 1(1), 16–20.
Corrigan, P. W., & Watson, A. C. (2007). The Stigma of Psychiatric Disorders and the Gender, Ethnicity, and Education of the Perceiver. Community Mental Health Journal, 43(5), 439–458. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10597-007-9084-9
Link, B. G. (1987). Understanding Labeling Effects in the Area of Mental Disorders: An Assessment of the Effects of Expectations of Rejection. American Sociological Review, 52(1), 96–112. https://doi.org/10.2307/2095395
Parcesepe, A. M., & Cabassa, L. J. (2013). Public Stigma of Mental Illness in the United States: A Systematic Literature Review. Administration and Policy in Mental Health, 40(5), 10.1007/s10488-012-0430-z. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10488-012-0430-z
Rohleder, P. (2014). Othering. In T. Teo (Ed.), Encyclopedia of Critical Psychology (pp. 1306–1308). Springer. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4614-5583-7_414
The State of Mental Health in America. (n.d.). Mental Health America. Retrieved May 18, 2022, from https://www.mhanational.org/issues/state-mental-health-america