Shatter the Stigma, Mend the Mind
Results of Not Seeking Help
“Individuals who suffer from mental illnesses will go to great lengths to avoid the public discovering their psychological diagnosis because they fear being severely stigmatized. This could mean personal restrictions on their ability to socialize, a fundamental key skill for seeking employment (Bathje & Pryor, 2011). Furthermore, they are reluctant to seek counselling. Although many would benefit from available resources and sources of help, they prefer to remain silent than be faced with the stigmatization.
Stigma has been defined as a mark or flaw resulting from a personal or
physical characteristic that is viewed as socially unacceptable. The stigma associated with seeking mental health services, therefore, is the perception that a person who seeks psychological treatment is undesirable or socially unacceptable. (Hackler, Vogel, & Wade, 2007)
Given the negative perception of those who suffer from mental illnesses, it is not surprising that individuals hide their mental health concerns as a protective measure from stigma. Along with the definition above, Hackler, Vogel, and Wade released a report in 2007 detailing the main reasons to fear stigmatization from the perspective of a mentally ill individual. They concluded that stigmatization deters individuals from “(a) acknowledging their illness, (b) seeking help, and (c) remaining in treatment, thus creating unnecessary suffering” (2007). The three professors from Iowa State University concluded that a better understanding of the role of stigma in seeking care would be a simple but important step in reducing the stigma surrounding mental illnesses. This would hopefully lower the number of suicides yearly caused by untreated mental illnesses.”