What is Stigma?
Stigma is referred to as a mark of devaluation which is used for a specific person or in some cases, a circumstance. The people who fall victim to such acts of disgrace tend to suffer a lot. The suffering and labeling often end up separating them from the society, and that is where depression strikes.
There are a lot of stigmas in the society even in the 21st century, and the most common one amongst them is the stigma of mental illness. This situation tends to make the person feel so damaged, which is almost as bad as the illness itself. Stigma is considered to be a low and negative mindset due to which the society tends to lose its worth.
As stated above as well, mental illness is a condition which is stigmatized the most in society. According to recent research carried out the people suffering from some kind of mental illness are the ones who most of the times fall victim to such acts of devaluation. Almost 46 million American patients undergoing a mental illness are being stigmatized. It’s extremely hard for anyone for dealing with mental sickness but what’s even harder is having to prepare yourself to answer the never-ending questions of the people around you, the feeling that you are constantly being judged by hundreds of them, the discrimination which takes place on a very large scale and of course the unfair treatment. The person who has to face this every day tends to lose confidence in them and the fact that are they ever going to get better or not.
People suffering from a medical condition also face the problem of stigma. What happens is that the constant discrimination which is a scene in the society for those who are patients of a certain disease tends to prevent other people from disclosing their medical condition simply because of the reason that they do not want to society to labialize them or to behave with them in an unacceptable way. In the past, there are some diseases which have been stigmatized a lot for example leprosy, HIV/AIDS.
It is the general behavior of the society to consider that the people who are fighting a medical condition such as cancer are really strong and that they are entitled to get all the support in the world, so that every day they feel encouraged to live a bit longer.
On the other hand, people who are daily fighting the diseases such as HIV are treated in the most unfair way, because the society considers them to be sinners. Therefore, they are not given due importance and encouragement; which helps a person survive even in the most unlikely situations, but in this case it makes them feel weaker every day. Such societies believe that HIV patients are being punished for their unforgivable act; they are forced to go into isolation.
What stigma does to them is really sad as it stops the person to get him/herself tested for such a disease, getting the proper medical care which is required, making it known to the people around them and seeking complete treatment. The possible fears which are faced under such situations are; the fear of isolation, the possibility of losing their life partners without whom they might not have ever imagined their lives. For these people trying simple ways to improve your mental health is a must.
Impact of stigma
The constant stigmatization develops in the patients or other people suffering from it on a daily basis, feelings of fear, lack of confidence and they often end up re-evaluating their own self. They also suffer with nightmares. For this they need to learn how to sleep without dreaming.
Self-stigmatization refers to an act whereby the people with mental illness, tend to adopt and make the negative attitudes and beliefs of the society, towards them, as a part of their personal nature, through learning. This ends with the person not knowing the worth of his/her life and therefore suffers from extremely low self-esteem.
The economic impact of mental stigma
The effects of stigma are not just confined to the society or the person suffering from it, in fact, the economy also falls victim to it. The hesitation of patients with mental illness to come forward and seek medical care costs the state a lot as when people do eventually decide to disclose their sickness then the costs of the health service increase on a very large scale.
According to research carried out, it was stated that one in four Europeans are affected by various mental health issues. This accounts to 132.4 million people every year causing the economic cost of 436 billion Euro in 2006 or 2,271 Euro per EU household per year. Not just that, in Ireland the costs of mental health problems are reckoned to be over €3 billion in 2006. Putting an end to the act of stigmatization is much needed not just for the individual, but for the betterment of the society and economy on the whole.
The society plays a major role in the act of stigmatization. The person who daily encounters such attitudes of the people begins to question him/herself as to why they are the way they are? Or what it is that they need to change about themselves?
The effects stated in the above paragraph, are certainly not the only ones, there are a lot of other impacts stigma has on the life of people undergoing the situation. For example, it minimizes any access to getting a proper job or enjoying housing facilities. Reduced dignity comes naturally with stigmatization. The human rights are openly abused with no one opposing to it, as people tend to accept stigmatizing as normal behavior of the society.