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How Mental or Physical Illness Stigma Can Have a Debilitating Effect upon a Service User and their Families

7 pages
1711 words
Vanderbilt University
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Depression is a common mental disorder that affects how an individual feels, thinks and acts negatively. The condition, however, can be treated. Depression makes the affected individual feel sad and has interest loss in the activities they were used to undertaking and enjoying. Depression results in various problems and therefore affect the ability of an individual to function properly both at home and at work. The symptoms of depression last up to two weeks to enable for correct diagnosis. It is estimated that depression affects one in 15 adult individuals annually that is 6.7 percent (Moretti et al., 2011). Progressively, one in six people will in their lifetime experience depression at one point. The paper will show how stigmatization can have a devastating effect on the clients, families and their quality of life.

Perception of the Society

Mental illness is a common condition. Studies show that one in four individuals will experience a psychological problem at a certain point in their lives. Moreover, approximately 450 million people are experiencing mental health problem in the world (Corrigan, Rafacz & Rusch, 2011). In most cases, individuals with mental health illness experience discernment in all spheres of their lives. They experience stigmatization from the employers, friends, families and other people in the society. This is because the community has typecast opinions about mental sickness and how it impacts on people (Evans-Lacko et al., 2012). Majority of the people hold the perception that individuals with mental illness are mostly fierce and dangerous and thus should be stigmatized. However, the fact is that persons with mental illness are more at danger of being confronted rather than harming other individuals. Discrimination and stigmatization can worsen the mental health problems of an individual or delay them from acquiring recovery and treatment. The negative perception about individuals with mental illness can result to adverse effects such as unemployment, inadequate housing, and increased poverty.

People who have been diagnosed with a mental illness such as depression often are denied an equal opportunity in employment offers compared to people who do not have such a history. Some employers hold back from employing such a person due to fear that those individuals will either harm or attack other employees and customers (Brohan et al., 2011). Moreover, employers claim that employment of such individuals will attract huge health insurance premiums on them. Health insurance firms often charge higher premiums for patients with a diagnosis of such mental illness leading the organizations holding back from recruiting them.

Furthermore, housing corporations often find it difficult to let their property or houses to people who have a history of depression. They fear that the affected persons might cause unrest in their premises which may make other occupants of the premises to vacate. They also worry that individuals who have had such psychological breakdown may experience that disorder and cause damages to their property (Daumit, et al., 2013). Moreover, people with depression are often excluded from social activities in the community. Such activities include social interaction within specific neighbourhoods, civic participation and health services. Projection of such negative attitudes towards a person who has a history of depression has often been attributed to fear of violence or physical confrontation with such people. However, in most instances, the prejudice projected towards such people is informed by stereotypes of depression on mainstream media which causes unwarranted avoidance.

Theoretical Approaches

Analytical or Development Theory

Developmental theory employs a specific framework when accessing the growth in humans, learning, and development process. It accesses the motivation of human thought, and behaviour to provide insight into individuals and the society. Cherry interrogated the different aspects of cognitive development (Conner et al., 2010). Cherry observed that development process is affected by various factors such as genetics, interactions, external and internal social influences and learning. Different development theories explain the diverse influences of the stages of thought about a person's personality developed in early stages. Therefore, understanding these factors gives an insight into the perception of mental illnesses such as depression because one can determine the specific factors that influence a certain disorder.

Behavioural Theory

Behavioural theory highlights the significance of the environment in shaping the behaviour of an individual. The theory asserts that our actions are a response to environmental stimuli which we are subjected to. Furthermore, the theory emphasizes that mental illness can be treated by systematically observing the environment irrespective of the internal mental state of an individual. Observation of individuals, emotions, cognition, and moods which are too subjective are informative of a persons internal wellness (Henderson, Evans-Lacko & Thornicroft, 2013). The behavioural theory holds that one can perform any assignment notwithstanding their genetic background, character, and internal thought within their physical capabilities. The only necessity is being subject to the right environment. Moreover, the theory asserts that through observation of a persons environment, one may understand causes of mental illness and as well understand their mental state.

Cognitive Theory

The cognitive theory addresses the manner in which a person perceives, learns and remembers things. Therefore, people are in a position to make changes in the management of their perceptions. The cognitive theory reviews the different process that is undertaken in the cognitive process (Livingston & Boyd, 2010). They include the access to information through processes such as attention, short-term memory, and perception. After information has been collected, it undergoes mediation process through a systematic process which gives a behaviour as a response. The cognitive theory borrows the computerized processing of information. Analysis of a persons mental performance at each stage helps identify the psychological challenges they are experiencing during the information processing which may also be detected by observing their responses.

Social Theory

Social theory addresses social topics about mental illness. The theory addresses issues such as social perceptions, aggression, and conformity. Additionally, the theory focuses on such topics as leadership, prejudice and group behaviour. It evaluates the kind of human behaviour that is affected by other people in different social contexts (Pickett & Wilkinson, 2010). This makes it possible to explain specific behavioural responses in the presence of others. Social psychology from the social theory finds the manner in which feelings, beliefs, thoughts goals, and intentions are formulated and their impact on an individuals interactions. Therefore, it is possible to understand an individuals or social groups conduct after understanding the factors that influence the thought process. In the case of depression, it is possible to identify the social contribution to the mental illness.

Impact of Stigma as Applicable to Depression and Family

The family of a depressed individual is also stigmatized. Although stigmatization mostly affects the depressed individuals, family members associated with the person with depression also experience avoidance from other people. Few people in the community would want to associate with the family of the depressed individual by attack and violence by the depressed individuals. As a result of this, family members do not get the necessary support such as money to be able to take care of the depressed person. Moreover, family members do not have people to share the emotional problems that they are encountering (Nanni, Uher & Danese, 2012). They are often forced to undertake criminal activities such as stealing to cater for the medication of the depressed individual. Furthermore, employers do not want to employ individuals with a family history of depression. Employers claim that such employees will continuously seek for leaves to attend the depressed people. Furthermore, the employee may have certain traits of depression causing them to be dangerous to other employees and customers. Additionally, family members of a depressed person are not involved in the community projects. They are rejected on the basis that they are incapable of performing various duties and responsibilities.

Factors Influencing Management of Depression

Patients who exhibit depression symptoms often refuse to seek treatment for the condition. This may be caused by various reasons which include denial of the mental illness. Some patients deny the fact they are unwell despite the presence of visible symptoms such as aggression by petty matters, sleep disturbance, anxiety, loss or gain of appetite and loss of interest in normal activities (O'Hara & Wisner, 2014). Such conditions make it difficult to keep the depression within a manageable degree in terms of costs incurred and the impact it has on the patients health. Other factors such as availability of physicians, support by family members and financial aid influence the management of depression.

Furthermore, unhealthy lifestyles influence the management of depression. This is because negative lifestyle factors contribute to the depression condition. Negative lifestyle factors include abuse of drugs and alcohol, overworking, lack of exercise, poor sleep, poor diet and lack of leisure time. Minimization of such factors would help manage the increasing rates of depression. Abuse of other drugs such as alcohol leads to difficulty in managing depression (Le Cook et al., 2014). Patients who have an addiction are likely to forget keeping up with their medication which makes it difficult to keep depression is such cases within a manageable state. Moreover, stigmatization of the patients also makes it difficult for the patients to seek treatment and recover from depression. Social support from friends and the rest of the community makes it possible for the depressed people to resume their normal lives.

Effectiveness of Community Care Interventions

Communities have different health beliefs about the cause of an illness. They have different beliefs about how it can be cured and who should be involved in the treatment process. The degree to which people perceive patient education can influence the kind of intervention. Some communities believe that mental illnesses are caused by supernatural phenomena and therefore should involve spiritual interventions (Mitchell et al., 2011). Cultural issues can also affect people with mental illness to comply with the medications. Furthermore, the culture of a community can impact on the way a depressed person copes with stress. Therefore, there is need to develop diverse strategies and interventions that help accommodate the different cultures. This is because not all interventions can be applied to all communities. Furthermore, the policies and programs initiated by the government can influence the mental health interventions. For instance, the government may initiate projects to establish mental health institutions. These institutions bring the mental health services closer to the depressed people. Furthermore, political support regarding resources can enhance effective mental health interventions. The type of laws enacted by the governm...

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