Impact of Stigma on Mental Illness

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Impact of Stigma on Mental Illness

The Impact of Stigma on People with Mental Illness: Case Analysis

Student Sample Answer:


Over the past decade, there have been endless debates about the impacts of stigma on people with mental disorders. While some researchers ague that stigma around mental health is no longer a society issue, in every society and culture, people with mental illness remain stigmatized (Patrick & Amy, 2002). I have done massive research on stigmatized people and mental illness, which I will use in writing this reflection paper. Stigmatized people suffer serious mental illness and get doubly challenged. First, they suffer and struggle with disabilities and symptoms that result from mental illness. Second, stereotypes and bias by the society based on misconceptions challenge them mentally.


Historical Perspective of Mental Illness

Throughout history and every culture, people with personality disorders have been stigmatized. For most patients, the stigma is greatly associated with their mental disorders which can be difficult to treat.  Mental illness is the most solitary of afflictions to patients who suffer from it (Patrick & Amy, 2002). But, it is the most social of maladies to the society and people who observe its adverse effects. There exist many socio-cultural dimensions of mental illness, and this builds on the concepts of public and self-stigma. Profoundly, mental illness has been proved to pose disruptive effects on people lives as well as the family, community, and social order. Historically, metal symptoms in a patient are not incidentally by large, but a social infraction (Patrick & Amy, 2002). The society places ridicule, shame, and discrimination on people who suffer mental illness, behaviors which discourage the affected from seeking advance treatment and attention from therapists and psychiatrists.

Media Influence on Stigma

The media has damaged people’s depictions of mental illness. Subtle stereotypes regularly pervade the news. In my life experience, I witnessed a man who suffered from mental illness setting fire on her son’s house. The news was reported by the media on the Television. In the news, the reporter concluded the news by indicating that the man looked depressed and stressed. Whether it is an insinuating remark or a graphic depiction, the media have always painted inaccurate picture and grim about stigma of mental illness.

Pictures shown by the media greatly influences the public perception on stigma and mental disorders. Most people acquire mental illness information from mass media. What the audience views influence their perspective, leading them to fear, discriminate, and avoid interacting with people with mental illness (Patrick & Amy, 2002). The myths presented by the media not only damages public perceptions but also harm the mentally ill people. The fearful feeling created by the media prevents people from seeking medical attention. Some individuals decide to suffer depression alone instead of disclosing their psychiatric disorders.

Negative Impacts of Stigma

Effects of stigma on people with mental illness are as painful as the personality disorders themselves. The stigma adversely affects the mentally ill people, the society, and their families differently. In the past, I lacked a deep understanding of what stigma is and its relationship with mental disorders. But, after doing research on the subject, I have gained a lot of understanding on what stigma entail, its pain, and relationship with mental illness. People who suffer mental illness get robbed access to quality opportunities and negatively affect their physical health, education, relationships, and employment (Patrick & Amy, 2002). Mental illness is witnessed on people who suffer depression, bipolar, anxiety, and schizophrenia. Approximately, only 60 percent of mentally ill people receive treatment; and this is due to stigmatization (Patrick & Amy, 2002).


On a public standpoint, stereotypes considering the mentally ill people as being unpredictable, dangerous, incompetent, and responsible for their suffering lead to active discrimination. Due to this, people with these conditions get excluded from social, employment, and education opportunities. In the medical fields, negative stereotypes and prejudice of the affected people triggers the medical providers to offer less focus on the patient rather than the disorder (Patrick & Amy, 2002). Such discrimination acts against the affected lead to both public and private stigmatization. While stereotypes are viewed as social, they collectively depict the agreed upon norms, attitudes, and perceptions of the society towards a given issue.

For the people with mental illness, stigma causes them to avoid or delay seeking mental health care and attention. Also, stereotypes about mentally ill people makes them develop intense fear of being known to the society; and thus developing self-stigmatization. Enduring discrimination is also a major effect of stigma to the individuals living with mental illness. On the part of the society, they develop mistrust, violence, fear, and prejudice against individuals suffering mental disorders. To the family, it is costly to treat mental illness. Also, they develop fear against their family member given the negative depiction attributed to them by the society and media.

Concepts of Public and Self-Stigma

The adverse impacts of stigma on people with mental illness are twofold, public and self-stigma. Public stigma entails the reactions and beliefs held by the general population on the people living with mental disorders. Negative opinions and attitudes by the public against the mentally-ill people stigmatize the affected even more. The public depicts the mentally-ill people as unpredictable, dangerous, and incompetent to professional and educational opportunities (Patrick & Amy, 2002). On the other hand, self-stigma refers to the prejudice which the mentally-ill individuals express against themselves. Displays of discrimination by the general population on the people living with mental disorders makes them feel depressed, stressed, and doubtful of their existence; this contributes to the self-stigma development. In self stigma, individuals with mental disorders start believing in the negative thoughts expressed about them by the others (Patrick & Amy, 2002). In turn, they begin thinking of themselves as unworthy and thinking it is impossible to recover. Also, the affected people consider themselves as dangerous, undeserving of care, unpredictable, and even responsible for their own sufferings. Such perceptions and thoughts make them encounter low self-esteem, feel shame, and become unable to realize their set goals. In attempts to avoid prejudice, the people labelled “mentally ill” hide and deny their problems by refusing to seek medical care.



In summary, the mentally-ill people suffer stigmatization. Prior to the research, I thought that stigma around mental illness was no longer a social issue, but rather just a health issue. However, research has improved my understanding about stigma around mental disorders. In general, stereotypes and prejudices about mental illness attach to stigma. The general population fear people living with mental disorder, and consider them as unpredictable and dangerous. As a result, individuals with mental illness develop a negative perception about them and avoid seeking medical attention. My view on the topic has changed, and I would like to continue researching more about the topic. My further research on the topic will major on the strategies for transforming public stigma, for I believe this is the surest way to end stigma on mental illness.


Patrick, C. W., & Amy, W. C. (2002). Understanding the impact of stigma on people with mental illness. World Pyschiatry, 16-20. Retrieved November 6, 2018, from

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