According to statistics released by the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration, approximately 9.3 million American adults 18 and older, experience a mental illness that is so serious that it impedes on daily activities.
Only 49 percent of those with a mental illness, however, receive the help needed to treat it.
The reason why so many are not receiving the help they need can be blamed largely on the stigma that surrounds mental illnesses.
Society has taught us all to look at those with a mental illness as lesser people.
The stigma is passed along generations, and even those with mental illnesses believe what they hear.
A public attitudes survey taken in Tarrant County, Texas, reveals just what kind of impact stigma has: more than 40 percent of those surveyed agree that anyone with a history of mental problems should be excluded from public office.
Nearly one in three individuals believe a child should be placed in an alternative setting as soon as he or she exhibits a mental illness in school.
More than 50 percent believe major depression might be caused by the way someone was raised, while more than one in five believe it is “God’s will.”
More than 50 percent believe major depression might result from people “expecting too much from life,” and more than 40 percent believe it is the result of a lack of will power.
More than 60 percent said an effective treatment for major depression is to “pull yourself together.”
These statics show that people with mental illnesses either are not taken seriously, or are viewed as incapable or a threat to society.
In reality, those who suffer with mental illness are just like everyone else.
The exact cause of all mental illnesses is not known, but it is clear that the conditions are mainly the result of genetic, biological, psychological and environmental factors.
Mental illnesses have nothing to do with personal weakness or a character defect. Anyone can have a mental illness, despite what many assume.
The stigma that comes along with being diagnosed with a mental illness often deters people from seeking help or even acknowledging that something could be wrong.
Without the right help, many of those suffering will continue to do so with little hope of getting better.
Living with a mental illness does not have to be an everyday battle.
Certain medicines and treatment can reduce the stress and pain that come along with the afflictions.
Stigma leads to fear, mistrust, and violence. It can also prevent people from getting the help they deserve.
Until something changes, people will continue to sit in the dark with their mental illness, afraid that they will be judged for the things they cannot control.
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