Q. What is the stigma around mental health?

Answered by
Dr. Seikhoo Bishnoi
and medically reviewed by iCliniq medical review team.
This is a premium question & answer published on Nov 10, 2019

Hello doctor,

What is the stigma around mental health? Why it is there? How can people help break the stigma around mental health and what advice do you have for people who want help but stigma is keeping them from getting it?



Welcome to

Stigma for mental illnesses is as old as civilization itself. Persons having mental illnesses were considered as evil. Mental illnesses were thought to be due to past life sins. A person having any kind of mental illness whether neurotic or psychotic was considered as "mental" or "crazy" or "lunatic". Progressively these all resulted in failure to acknowledge the mental illness and individuals develop thinking that what others would think if they consult a psychiatrist. Stigma is there because of cultural beliefs. Even in western countries, people have hesitation in consulting a psychiatrist. What will others think about me? People will make fun of me if I consult a psychiatrist, psychiatric medicines will make me emotionally numb, I will become dependent on medicines, etc., are the reasons there is a stigma for mental illnesses.

Psycho-education is the most important method to break stigma. Awareness in public about mental illnesses, acknowledgment by celebrities that they too suffer mental issues are the factors that can help to break the stigma. Making people believe that mental illnesses are like any other medical illnesses, and these occur because of change in neuro-transmitters also help in reducing stigma.

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