There is no greater obstacle to people receiving treatment for psychological problems than the stigma associated with it. Embarrassment, feelings of failure, and individualism are all pieces related to the greater socio-cultural stigma that relegates a depressed person to his bedroom and relationship problems to closed doors. At least half of Americans who are in need to treatment do not seek services. Practitioners have long fought to have this pressure reduced through education campaigns, open dialogue, and mental health insurance coverage, and it although stigma is still a force, it appears that these efforts may be making an impact.
There are a variety of articles recently detailing some of these changes. For example, The Washington Post ran a story on Friday about Doug Duncan dropping out of the Maryland gubanatorial race to deal with his depression. Even more prominent is the retrial scheduled for Andrea Yates, the Texas mother who pled innocent by reason of insanity for the murder of her 5 children due to post-partum depression. The changing view of mental illness will be a key factor in whether jurors will be sympathetic to her.
Otherwise, help seeking behavior continues to receive attention in the clinical literature, working to inform practitioners about the specific barriers some folks face and how to help remove them. Men still seem to lag behind in help-seeking since self-sufficiency is often a key part of their definition of masculinity, but even that may be wearing down. Ideally the information campaigns and increased funding for treatment seen in Britain and Australia continue to chip away at a long standing attitudes toward psychological treatment, freeing those in need to make the choice toward improvement and health.
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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 26 Jun 2006
Published on PsychCentral.com. All rights reserved.
Meek, W. (2006). Mental Health Stigma Reduction? Proof is in the Politics.. Psych Central. Retrieved on May 21, 2013, from http://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2006/06/26/mental-health-stigma-reduction-proof-is-in-the-politics/