Challengesof Mental Illness in Life
Challengesof Mental Illness in Life
Mentalhealth is a common problem in the modern population. It is estimatedthat, one in every six individuals have some sort of mental healthchallenges at any one time. Mental health disorders exhibit differentsigns and symptoms which may vary from individual to individual.However, these symptoms and signs can affect the way a person thinks,relates, feels or behaves towards different situations. Just like anyother disease or disorder, mental illness can affect anyoneregardless of their social class, age and race. Due to the changesthat occur in persons with mental health illness, they are vulnerableto stigma and discrimination (Callardet al., 2012).Discrimination and stigma affects the lives of the mentally ill,making it miserable and finds it difficult to recover.
Peoplewith mental illness are aware of the stigma and discriminationsubjected towards them and it really affects their wellness not onlymentally but also physically. Stigma is a term used to describenegative and stereotypical beliefs, feelings and attitudes regardingindividuals on the basis of their traits which can include ethnicity,race, gender, sexual orientation, religion, skin color and mentalillness (Fink& Tasman, 1992).Stigma is used to label some people as less admirable than others.Such attitudes in the community are enhanced by prejudice, ignoranceand discrimination and are portrayed when mentally ill people aremisrepresented in the media (Fink& Tasman, 1992).There is a lot of stigma related to mental illness in differentsocieties. This stigma not only affects the mentally ill, but alsotheir care givers and families. Discrimination leads to people beingshun and given less opportunities in the society.
Somegeneral misconception that are associated with the mentally aredamaging. People usually believe that, mentally ill people aredangerous and can be violent. This is just a misconception which isemphasized in media. The truth is, as many as 90 percent of mentallyill people have never engaged in violent activities. Another generalmisconception or stereotype for the mentally ill is that they areunfit to work. These forms of stereotype lead to discriminationpresenting various challenges to people with mental health problem aswell as their families.
Thestigma against mentally ill people makes them feel socially isolated.As a result, they may not be able to take up their roles in thesociety as other people (Callardet al., 2012).They may find it harder to get into a relationship, marry or evenhave children, keep a job or socialize with others. The family mayabandon them, leaving them to mental institutions or in the streets.
Consequently,this stigmatization makes people living with mental problems to shyfrom seeking help. Since people may not be able to comprehend thesymptoms of mentally ill people, they may be reluctant to seekpsychiatric help just because of the negative experiences they havesuffered from being mentally ill. In addition, self stigma thatmentally ill people have of themselves due to their status affectsthem negatively. Sometimes such people become afraid of showing theirillness for fear of what other people will say about them, whichconsequently damages their self esteem, confidence and usually resultto embarrassment, fear and alienation.
Inthe workplace in social groups, mentally ill people are faced withdiscrimination. They may not be able to find safe and secureaccommodation, hence hinder recovery (Rogers& Pilgrim, 2010).The
Familyand friends of people with mental illnesses are also affected by thestigma associated with their beloved mentally ill individuals. Asthey struggle to help them to recover, the stigma and discriminationdirected towards them disheartens and affects theses efforts.Sometimes, such families want support and understanding, but withpublic stigma or societal discrimination of mentally ill individuals,this support is usually an illusion.
Discriminationof the mentally ill is a serious problem world over and in particularthe United States. Stigma against this group is so serious that it isbeen codified for decades into federal law, with only a few peopleoutside the mental health system are aware of it (Fink& Tasman, 1992).
Discriminationis confined in Medicaid and Medicare policies leading to theexploitation of federal psychiatric hospitals which leaves many ofthe mentally ill vulnerable and with nowhere to turn to. Unlike otherhealth conditions, mental illness has remained the most unattendedform of illness in most countries. Most hospitals and communities areunable to care for the mentally ill. As a result, the mentally illroam in the society without any assistance. Due to their state, theymay find themselves on the wrong side of the law including trafficoffences, or serious offences such as homicide that may keep themlocked in state prisons unfairly.
Formental illness patients who may be willing to find treatment, it maynot be available or easily accessible due to discrimination.Sometimes, insurance companies leave out patients with mental healthproblems from coverage (Rogers& Pilgrim, 2010).They do so unlawfully since the person may not be able to make afollow up.
Asnoted in by Szabo (2014), there is no any other field of medicinewhere the source of stigma comes from the government. The crafting ofMedicaid laws for example were influenced by stigma. The vagueprovision of Medicaid law emphasizes that funds may be utilized forhospital dealing with physical health conditions but not for mentalhealth (Szabo, 2014). Thus, the Medicare laws alienate against mentalillness patients and also limit the number of days a patient canreceive inpatient mental health care. On the contrary, Medicaid doesnot limit the period of time for physical health patients. This showshow the government has also made it difficult for mentally ill peoplein the society.
Theextent of stigma and discrimination against the mentally ill isworrying. Mentally ill people are believed to be incapable ofworking. Employers sometimes require their employees to sign to aclause that, in the case of mental incapacity, their job contract maybe terminated. Employers take advantage of such stipulations to fireindividuals who suffer from mental problems. According to Batty(2004), mentally ill people are normally illegally denied benefits,are denied insurance cover and are exposed to exploitation fromcredit card organizations, which lead them to accumulatingunnecessary. A person is usually liable for incapacity benefitsincluding from mental health. However, most companies deny employeesthis benefits unlawfully and such individuals are unable to claimunless with the help of a relative or a lawyer. In addition, losing ajob for a mentally ill person presents different health and financialtribulations. In the United Kingdom, only 18 percent of people withmental health issues are employed, which is the lowest number inemployment as compared to other disabilities (Batty, 2004). Unable topay for their medical bills, their health deteriorates and cannotfind any source of income. For those with mortgages, they lose theirhouses due to non-payment. As a result, the mentally sick people endup in poverty, become homeless and vulnerable.
Thediscrimination and stigma which mentally ill people face is the basisof their tribulations. They face stigma from the society, in theworkplace and also discriminated through federal laws, such asMedicaid. With no one to care for them and no one to fight for theirright, the mentally ill population remains vulnerable to exploitationfrom credit card companies as well as relatives who may end upselling their properties. As a result, mentally ill people end up inpoverty, homeless and desperate. This does more harm than good. Whenneglected, stigmatized and isolate, their health problem worsens andthey become dangerous to the society and to themselves. Even thoughit has been established that about 90 percent of mentally sick peopleare not violent, if left untreated, they can become violent. Majorityof shooting incidences for example has been connected to mentalillness. Families of the mentally ill also suffer significantly fromthe public stigma associated with the mentally ill. Ultimately,mental health problems are not inherent to certain individuals andcan affect anyone regardless of their social class, race or gender.Thus, every person including the family, employers, the society andthe government must work hand in hand to see that all citizens enjoylife to the fullest by supporting and treating those who are mentallyill.
Batty,D. (2004, April, 28). People with mental illness face widespreaddiscrimination. SocietyGuardian.Retrievedhttp://www.theguardian.com/society/2004/apr/28/equality.mentalhealth(Accessed December 11, 2014)
Callard,F., Sartorius, N., rez, J., Bartlett, P., Helmchen, H., Stuart, H.,Taborda. & Thornicroft, G. (2012). Mentalillness, discrimination, and the law fighting for social justice.Hoboken: John Wiley & Sons.
Fink,P. & Tasman, A. (1992). Stigmaand mental illness.Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Press.
Rogers,A., & Pilgrim, D. (2010). Asociology of mental health and illness.McGraw-Hill International.
Szabo,L. (2014). A separate and unequal system: People with mental illnessface legal discrimination. USATODAY.Retrievedhttp://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2014/06/25/stigma-of-mental-illness/9875351/(Accessed December 11, 2014).