Mental Illness Stigma and Pill Shaming

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Introduction

Stigmatization and pill shaming is evident in contemporary society where people stereotype mental illness as lack of self-control (PROBLEM). For example, the mentally ill are labeled as unpredictable, violent, insane, and drug addict. A significant number of people suffer from different types of mental illness, such as anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, and post- traumatic disorder that affect their behaviors and relationship with others in the community. The stereotyping of the illness subjects patient to discrimination and stigma. Although the mental disorder is evident in the world today, people still classify it as a phase of life rather than an illness. Lack of information and ignorance causes individuals in current society to victimize and stigmatize people suffering from a psychological ailment. Therefore, people should be educated and informed about mental illness to reduce stigmatization. Persons with mental disorder should be respected and handled like patients with other health complications, such as heart attack or blood pressure. Mental disorder is rampant in the world we are living today, and lack of knowledge and stereotype increases stigma and pill shaming to a person suffering from the ailment which limits their recovery process.

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Background

Stigmatization and pill shaming are societal problem because the population is ignorant and afraid of the mentally ill individuals. Though humanities eliminated harsh mistreatment, such as killing, burning, imprisoning, or drilling holes into the brain, discrimination and stigma are still prevalent. Research conducted to investigate the extent of stigmatizing and stereotyping of people with mental diseases, indicate that countries, societies, and cultures treated people with a mental disability different from the healthy ones (Parcesepe 385). People also discriminated individuals regarding to the type of psychological ailments. For example, they developed a social distance with people suffering from schizophrenia more than the depressed. They also express negative opinion toward drug dependence.

 Different groups of factors contribute to the increased stereotype, discrimination, and stigmatization of mentally ill people. Media portrayals, such as television shows and films disseminate biased information that depicts a psychotically ill person as violent and criminals (Canfield 43). Healthcare professionals contribute to discrimination where they express reduced willingness to have contact with the patients (Stuart13). The mentally ill foster stigma when they internalize the humiliation leading to low self-esteem and self-efficacy. Stigmatization, discrimination, and pill shaming of people suffering from psychological ailment inhibit them from seeking medical care and limit their recovery.

Mental illness is evident around the world and people with disorder face discrimination in different situations, such as workplace, at home, or in the public places. People claim that the mentally ill persons lack the ability to control their emotions. They fail to understand that chemical imbalance inhibits people with mental disorder to exercise self-control. The mentally ill are stereotyped as insane, unpredictable and violent, which makes them face rejection or isolation from the healthy people. In the modern society, people still associate mental illness with demon possession, where mentally ill persons are taken to religious clergy for prayers or spiritual rituals. The patients are also believed to be cursed thus are isolated from others to avoid spreading the curse to others. The stereotyping and diversity in beliefs expose people with mental disorder to prejudice and stigmatization which hampers their recovery process.

Stigma as a Barrier for Recovery

A significant number of mentally ill persons suffer from discrimination expressed by family members, friends or coworkers .They are categorized as dangerous and unpredictable, and people tend to create a distance between them. The marginalization lowers the self-esteem of the patients and inhibits them from participating in social and economic development activities (Stigma as a Barrier to Mental Health Care). Despite the availability of different treatment services, the mentally ill person fails to seek for intervention and those who begin it they fail to complete. Prejudice and discrimination are the hindrances because they discourage patients from seeking effective healthcare services. Different levels of administrations also foster structural partiality when they fail to provide finances and resources for research as compared to other diseases (Stigma as a Barrier to Mental Health Care). Failure to include mental health services in medical insurance also increases the stigmatization of the patients. The desire to evade public stigma, discrimination, and the association with negative stereotypes compels people with the psychological disorder to avoid seeking treatment which hinders their recovery process.

Pill Shaming of the Mentally Ail People

Patient with mental disorder are prescribed to a single or six daily pills to stabilize their emotions. The medication procedure enables the patients to stay afloat and calm their nerves. For example, the patient is prescribed six pills on a daily basis to reduce anxiety and keep them composed (Parcesepe 385). People in public express a negative notion about people who take drugs to treat mental illness. They label the patients as junkies who are not able to deal with the problem on their own. Societies regard the mentally ill as drug addicts and people with a weak mind. The shame and accusation discourage the patients to seek medical care which hinders them from recovering. It subjects people with cerebral problems to pressure and stigma which compel them to take actions, such as suicide. The stereotyping discourages the family members of the ail person from taking the person for diagnosis or treatment. For example, the medication is regarded to trigger violence, suicidal thoughts, severe depression, and low libido (Shrivastava 71). Based on the allegation patients and their relative opt to avoid the medicine. To neutralize the negative public notion about the medication and reduce discrimination that leads to stigma, the community should be educated about mental health and how to relate to people suffering from the ailment. Public awareness reduces the stigma and encourages patients to seek treatment.

Counter Arguments

The increased prescription of pills to mentally ill patients has triggered debate among different practitioners including people who underwent the treatment. The opponents claim that there are various methods to treat people with psychological problems, such as counseling and self-help groups. They add that psychiatrists and medical experts prescribe the daily pills for their profitability without considering the side effects of the medication on the patient (Joanna). The adversaries condemn the increased use of antipsychotics, such as tranquilizers, Zyprexa, and Seroquel. They explain that the drugs are used for other purposes rather than treating severe mental disturbance. For example, they are used as a preventive measure in young people who are not psychotic but are at risk, and the medication is also recommended to aged adults who have dementia (Joanna). The opponents presented different side-effects of antipsychotics, such as metabolic changes, shrinking of the brain, and increased death as a result of a stroke or heart attack (Joanna). Therefore, antipsychotics should not be prescribed for mental treatment.

The Flaw of Opposition’s Logic

Although the challengers of prescribing medications to the mentally ill patients have presented reasons to prove their arguments, their logic is flawed. They fail to acknowledge that different people with psychological problems respond differently to anxiety and depression. They fail to admit that natural remedies, physical exercise, and counseling do not heal all mental disorders. Although the adversaries claim that people who have mental illness should be enrolled for counseling or self-help groups, they have not provided evidence to describe the success of the methods. Therefore, the mentally ill persons should be allowed to seek help that is suitable for their ailment, and they should not be victimized. For example, those who prefer pills should not be shamed or condemned for depending on medications to calm their emotions. Allowing people with mental illness to seek medical treatment, eliminating stereotyping, and avoiding isolation reduces stigma and facilitates the recovery process. 

Public awareness would reduce the rate of discrimination, stigmatization, and pill shaming thus allowing people to seek medical help and increase the chances of recovery. Mental health should also be handled like other diseases, such as heart attack, blood pressure, cancer, and AIDS. The federal, local, and state administration should also implement policies that eliminate structural discrimination. For example, they should provide finances and resources to institutions that deal with mental health to conduct research and raise awareness to the public about the disorder. Medical insurance cover should also cover medical bills for mentally ill patients. Reduced structural and social discrimination eliminates stigmatization and allows people to seek medical services.

Conclusion

A significant number of people around the world have a mental disorder, and lack of awareness, ignorance, and stereotyping increases stigma and pill shaming to a mentally ill person which hinders them from recovering. Discrimination and stigmatization of people with the cerebral disorder were evident from the ancient time where victims were imprisoned in asylums, killed, burned and sterilized. Though doctors carried out researches and formulated treatment methods, people in societies continued to categorize mentally ill people as violent, unpredictable, and weak. In the contemporary era, folks still fear and discriminate people with psychological problems which lead to pill shaming and stigma. Based on the evidence, researching and creating awareness about mental health would reduce prejudice and stigmatization. The researchers conducted numerous studies in the past concerning the topic of stigma and pill shaming; however, different issues, such as the causes of the disorder, appropriate treatment, and the side-effects of the medications are yet to be clarified. The subject of stigma and pill shaming is significant to the public because it provides them with relevant information about mental health and how to evade stigmatizing people in a society.

Works Cited

  1. Canfield, Brittany A., and Holly A. Cunningham. ‘Deconstructing Stigma in Mental Health.’ (2018). https://books.google.co.ke/books?id=3VJVDwAAQBAJ&printsec=frontcover&dq=stigmatization+of+mental+illness+in+contemporary+society&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwiI_bmR0JnfAhUo4YUKHel6DToQ6AEITDAG#v=onepage&q=stigmatization%20of%20mental%20illness%20in%20contemporary%20society&f=false
  2. Joanna Moncrieff. “Why ARE So Many People Being Labeled Bipolar?” Daily Mail, 23 September 2013,dailymail.co.uk/health/article-2430129/Bipolar-Why-ARE-people-More-celebrities-say-theyve-got-.html. Accessed on 7 December 2018.
  3. Parcesepe, Angela M., and Leopoldo J. Cabassa. ‘Public Stigma of Mental Illness In The United States: A Systematic Literature Review.’ Administration and Policy in Mental Health and Mental Health Services Research, vol. 40, no.5, 2013, pp. 384-399. www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3835659/ Accessed on 7 December 2018.
  4. Rössler, Wulf. ‘The Stigma of Mental Disorders: A Millennia?Long History of Social Exclusion and Prejudices.’ EMBO Reports, vol.17, no.9, 2016, pp. 1250-1253. europepmc.org/articles/pmc5007563
  5. Shrivastava, Amresh, Megan Johnston, and Yves Bureau. ‘Stigma of Mental Illness-1: Clinical Reflections.’ Mens Sana Monographs, vol.10, no.1, 2012, pp. 70. www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3353607/ Accessed on 7 December 2018.
  6. “Stigma as a Barrier to Mental Health Care.” Psychological Science, 14 September 2014, www.psychologicalscience.org/news/releases/stigma-as-a-barrier-to-mental-health-care.html. Accessed On 7 December 2018.
  7. Stuart, Heather, and Julio Arboleda-Flórez. ‘A Public Health Perspective on the Stigmatization of Mental Illnesses.’ Public Health Reviews, vol.34, no.2 (2012) pp. 12. publichealthreviews.biomedcentral.com/track/pdf/10.1007/BF03391680. Accessed on 7 December 2018.   
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Mental Illness Stigma and Pill Shaming. (2021, Dec 29). Retrieved August 13, 2022 , from
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