|Depiction of the isolation and grief |
associated with mental illness,
When someone who is suffering from a mental illness displays symptoms of it they will often hear remarks like "snap out of it" or "what's wrong with you?". People who witness someone having an anxiety attack or a mood swing often don't display the same sympathy they would for someone displaying symptoms of something less "emotional." This is even true of some healthcare professionals. Oftentimes this callous treatment and lack of sympathy make the sufferer feel even more isolated, depressed and anxious than they were to begin with. Fear of displaying these symptoms in public keeps many people with a mental illness from holding a job and leading a "normal" life.
Another aspect of the stigma attached to mental illness is the assumption that everyone who suffers from them is "crazy." Certainly there are mental illnesses that render the sufferer insane, but there are many victims of these illnesses that are far from being crazy. Mental illnesses are frequently misunderstood along with their victims. It is much easier to dismiss someone as insane than it is to attempt to understand these people and their diseases.
Of course there are some people who are afraid of people with mental illness. Some of these diseases and disorders are unpredictable and at times very frightening. It is natural to fear them. Unfortunately, this fear leaves the sufferer with fewer opportunities for friendships and other healthy relationships.
Victims of mental illness are often aware of the stigma that comes with being mentally ill. Unlike sufferers of most other disorders, people with mental illnesses have to deal with being judged as a consequence of being sick. Again, unlike other illnesses, fear of being judged or disliked can make many mental illnesses worse.
No matter how much proof of these diseases exists or how much evidence there is of the horror their victims suffer, some people continue to treat them as "fake" illnesses. Hopefully, in the future, people will treat sufferers of these illnesses with more sympathy and less denial.
Note: If you are a victim of mental health stigma, check out NAMI, an organization fighting to end the stigma associated with mental illness.