The End Of Stigma: Anthropology, Psychology And Sociology - Anthropology, Psychology And Sociology - Essay

2142 words - 9 pages

June 15, 2018
The End of Stigma
Mental health illnesses impact the lives of people ​and often plagues their life with
stigma as well as discrimination. Stigma is a reality for many people with a mental
illness, and they describe that how others judge them is one of their greatest barriers to
a complete and satisfying life. ​These mental illnesses are not “excuses” to skip school
or cannot be cured by “seeing a priest.” Mental health stigma is seen as a social
disgrace. The end of stigma begins with a spark, not only within us but within society,
within culture and within family. ​Stigma is a negative stereotype and ​can be seen as a
mark or disgrace associated with a circumstance, quality or person​. ​Basically, it is a
negative viewpoint due to a characteristic or a disadvantage that you have but may not
be able to control. Unfortunately, it is common for people with mental health conditions
to face negative beliefs and attitudes. Due to these false and negative beliefs, many
issues are caused for the people who suffer from these conditions/disorders. Stigma
also leads to discrimination. ​Discrimination is the behaviour that results from this
negative stereotype. ​ Discrimination is the ​the unjust or prejudicial treatment of different
categories of people or things. ​Discrimination may be obvious and direct, such as
someone making a negative remark about your mental illness or your treatment. Or it
may be unintentional or subtle, such as someone avoiding you because the person
assumes you could be unstable, violent or dangerous due to your mental illness. You
may even judge yourself. We may not realize it but discrimination and stigma could
really negatively affect people suffering from mental health conditions. It might cause
them to lose hope of getting better so that would mean them not taking treatments and
even thinking of how to get help. That means going as far as suicide. Stigma can be
seen from different points of views such as an anthropological, psychological and
sociological perspective. ​All three disciplines focus on different parts of mental health
and can provide different responses in which we deal with mental health stigma.
Firstly, an anthropological standpoint f​ocuses mostly on cultural anthropology in
which culture is the total system of ideas, values, behaviours and attitudes of a society
commonly shared by most members of society. People learn about cultures from their
parents. ​People should be taught how to avoid being negative towards other people
with mental health conditions. When you are younger, your family is your greatest
influence and from a younger age, they should be your mentors and teach you the
difference between right and wrong. Without knowing and learning the difference
between wrong and right, it could cause us to belittle and bully people with mental
health disorders or illnesses. This may cause people to promote stigma even though it
can be unintentional or internalized and the person is unconsciously discriminating
against mentally ill people. It is very common for immigrant children to get a lot of
pressure. Their parents might feel like they have to prove themselves because they
come from a different country, so they try to do it through their children. ​If we are
shaped by a culture that is not well informed on mental health and illnesses or refuses
to accept them and possibly mocks or doubts the validity of them, both will have equally
devastating effects on those suffering. This type of environment shuns the idea of
mental illness and oppresses those affected simply due to ignorance of the fact that
mental illnesses aren’t “real”. For example, the Asian culture highly stigmatizes mental
health issues. As a result, countries such as South Korea, India, and Japan have some
of the highest suicide rates in the world, with depression and social and family
pressures being some of the leading causes.​The pressure and stress that the child gets
could cause them to get a mental health condition like depression. Even though it may
not be their parents’ intention to do that, it may be the end result. I think in order to stop
what is happening right now, many cultures need to go through cultural evolutionism.
Cultural evolutionism is the idea that human culture changes. Many cultures need to go
through this change in order for stigma to end. A lot of stigma is produced by each
culture and we need to be able to get rid of it. In order to do that we need to change
some values that are present in our cultures. Some examples of values that we can
change in all cultures is we should respect people with mental health conditions and we
should also treat them how you would treat somebody without a mental health
condition. It is important that we try to change how culture’s view mental health but we
need to start off smaller. We can start by educating both children and adults about
mental health and spreading awareness to change their perception.
Secondly, stigma from a psychological perspective relates to cognitive
psychology. The word cognition refers to the processes in the brain associated with
thinking, knowing and remembering. The focus of cognitive psychology is how people
perceive and deal with their environment. It is also how people learn and remember. In
order to talk about stigma from a psychologists point of view we can focus on how
people learn in order to change their perception about mental health. Usually most
people have a negative perception of mental health. In order to get rid of stigmas you
need to change ​your perception. Perception is the process of how an individual takes in
information visually and with the other senses. Some factors that affect perception is
background and surroundings, the object of perception and the perceiver’s role. That
means that one of the factors that influences a person's perception is the influence from
family. Like they say ​monkey see, monkey do. When children see how their family
reacts to mental health, they would develop the same perception. This causes the
negative perception to pass down from generation to generation. As the leaders of
today, we must teach children how to develop a good perception and be more positive
towards people with mental health conditions so that in the future when they become
the leaders of tomorrow, our society is greater than it has ever been. However, it is
equally important to educate adults too. They are the leaders of today that spread
stigma by warning their children and family members of the “dangers” of people with
mental health disorders. This causes fear to be instilled in their children's minds which
will ultimately continue the chain of negativity. Mental health conditions are considered
to be so bad to adults, that in some cases when their own children contract a mental
health condition they use defence mechanisms to try to hide the truth. A defense
mechanism is a process that allows the mind to hide or change a problem so that it
does not bother us in a conscious way. One of the most common defense mechanisms
used for parents who come across this “problem” is denial. Denial is a defense
mechanism when you refuse to acknowledge the truth. Mental health conditions are not
something that should be kept hidden however, many people hide it in order to still fit in
with society as they are afraid to be looked at differently or treated differently or judged.
Thirdly, a sociological point of view gives us an insight on as to what sociologists
study such as social identities, values and norms of a society and agents of
socialization. Social identity is how race, class, ability, gender and sexual orientation
affect people’s lives. In this case, ability is the factor that affects the everyday lives of
people who are suffering from mental health conditions. They are not able to perform
some basic functions that other people do very easily. This can cause them to become
very insecure and to make matters worse they are also bullied on a daily basis which
can cause them to have low-self esteem or to be afraid about what the world has to
offer. This could cause delay their development of social identities which can lead to
future complications. Stigma needs to stop in order for everyone to develop a positive
social identity. Moving along, another important aspect that needs to be changed is the
values and norms of society. Values are shared ideas and standards that are
considered acceptable and binding. Values are usually learned from parents and
leaders or role models in your life. The values you learn are mostly based on culture.
That relates to anthropology as well because there needs to be a change of culture in
order to change the values that are being taught to children. Stigma also relates to the
norms of society. Norms are expectations about behaviour in particular contexts.
Everyone tries to stay within societal norms in order to fit in and be considered “good” in
the eyes of elders in the society. However, there are also deviants in all societies.
Deviance is any behaviour that is different from the societal norm. People with mental
health conditions are considered to be deviants in most societies. It is unfair seeing as
to how they did not have a choice in the matter to possess mental disorders,
circumstances from society trigger mental health illnesses and yet society discourages
having a mental illness. Since they are considered to be deviants, in some people’s
perspective they also need to be rehabilitated. Rehabilitation is t​he action of restoring
someone to normal life through training and therapy. People have different meanings of
normal. When they see someone with a mental health condition they assume that they
are not in their right mind and that they are dangerous or violent. They, then avoid them
and suggest that they should be restored in order to be consider normal and accepted
in society. However, since most mental health conditions/disorders do not have cures,
there is essentially no way for them to be “normal” again. This causes them to feel as
outsiders and feel lonely and they create a space in their mind, where they live all alone
with no help or contact, too afraid to go out again and feel free or at peace. ​Therefore,
stigma needs to be diminished in order for people with mental health conditions to feel
more accepted. They need to be shown in a new light that would prove to society that
they are in fact not deviants but just like everyone else. A way that we can do that is
through an agent of socialization, media. Media portrays people with mental health
issues as being different in a negative way. However, we can also use media to end
stigma and use it in a positive way to help people and spread awareness. Some
manifest functions of media is to share information with viewers and to shape or
influence behaviour. Therefore, if we begin to change the way they are portrayed in
movies and TV shows, we can end the negativity associated with mental illnesses.
We can also use media as a platform to inform people of the negative effects that
stigma has on people who suffer from mental health conditions. We can use this as an
effective way to end stigma since media has a very big influence on people, especially
children. Sociology is a topic that could really explain how much stigma really affects
people with mental health conditions/disorders.
In conclusion, there are many negative standpoints on the issue of mental health
conditions. However, there are people who are changing and are venturing to end
stigma. As a society we need to become stronger and change our point of view in order
to move forward and achieve greatness. We must be the spark that starts the fire and
changes the world. We should be able to embrace and accept people with mental
health conditions just as we do with people who do not have these conditions. At the
end of the day, we are human beings who need mutual support and love to survive.
Therefore, there is no reason why the uniqueness of some people is considered
negative. We hope to reduce the suicide rate for people who have mental health
conditions. ​Mental disorders or illnesses such as​ ​depression, PTSD, Bipolar disorder
and more cannot simply be “turned off” or cured by “seeing a priest.” We as a society
and community and more importantly as human beings need to change in order to end
the idea of mental health conditions being seen as a social disgrace. The only way to do
that is by changing the way we think from an anthropological, psychological and societal
standpoint. The end of stigma begins with change, a change within us.

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