Physical illness is considered normal. Someone could have and recover from a physical illness and no one really cares, as long as the person gets to feeling better. However, the mentally ill are not seen as treatable. They are called negative names and often have to hide their illnesses from people, even sometimes their own family members.
Many know the negativity associated with having a mental illness. Why is there a stigma for the mentally ill but not the physically ill?
A stigma is something negative that a person perceives about another person.
Many illnesses listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Text Revision, Edition Four (DSM-IV-TR) require treatment with medication and psychotherapy. Included are attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder, depression, bipolar disorder, alcohol and drug abuse, and many more. There are many people around the world taking medication for illnesses listed in the DSM-IV-TR, and many who should be and are not because of the stigma.
How can we help eliminate the stigma of mental illness? First, we must recognize that mental illness is just that—an illness. Those who suffer from a mental illness are not mentally deficient in their mental capacity; they just have had a chemical imbalance or a severe head injury that hinders their ability to function normally in a certain part of the brain.
For instance, those who have depression are not considered to be insane, and are usually prescribed medications and take psychotherapeutic treatments to help them recover. However, those who do take medications and treatments for depression are afraid to mention that to people because they do not want to be perceived of as mentally unstable or mentally deficient.
Those who suffer from bipolar disorder, with its dual polarity of euphoria and depression, also are treated with medication and therapy. But they are also considered to be mentally unstable.
Those who suffer from schizophrenia also are treated with medications and therapy. While some people who are more severely disabled by schizophrenia do need to be either institutionalized or helped throughout the day with their everyday chores, many can be treated successfully and maintain a relatively normal lifestyle.