When we talk about mental health disorders or mental illness, we unfortunately end up talking about two harmful things; shame and stigma. Though mental health and mental health disorders are becoming normalized in most modern culture, there is still a pervasive shame and stigma surrounding it which can prevent people from getting the treatment they need to heal. More importantly, stigma doesn’t just prevent the individual from seeking treatment, but it can compromise the kind of treatment that is available. How much government institutions, insurance companies, and treatment providers themselves adhere to stigmatizations of mental health disorders can affect the availability of care, the quality of care, and the way someone seeking care is regarded.
What is Stigma
A stigma is “a mark of disgrace associated with a particular circumstance, quality, or person”. Stigma can also be defined as “a visible sign or characteristic of a disease”. Most of what precedes mental illness in terms of stigma follows the first definition. Disgrace is a harsh word. It means a “loss of reputation or respect, especially as the result of a dishonorable action”. Here is where the stigma of mental illness becomes damaging. There is nothing dishonorable about living with a mental health disorder, much less disgraceful. Mental illness is not a choice. Anyone can develop a mental health condition within their lifetime and statistics indicate that a large percentage of people will experience at least one. However, it is the way people choose to live with their mental illness and work on learning to manage the symptoms of it that can fuel perpetuating ideologies regarding the stigma of mental illness. Without manageability, those “visible signs or characteristics” of a mental illness can at times make someone less than reputable or respected. Managing and treating mental illness should be a choice, but isn’t always.
Mental health care in any form, from treatment to seeing a therapist, isn’t available to everyone. Health insurance, coverage, and financial capabilities can get in the way. While Canada has national health care which encourages support of mental health care, other countries do not.
Aurora Recovery Center is committed to providing excellence in mental health care and treatment to the Manitoba area and Canada as a whole. For information on our treatment programs, call us today at 844-515-STOP.