The Stigma of Mental Illness

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					Why is mental illness still stigmatized in our society? Dr. Lisa Alloju,
a psychiatrist practicing in Fort Worth, Texas says, "Unfortunately,
despite all the medical advances of today's society, mental illness is
still viewed as something shameful. Because of this, many people who
really need psychiatric help are not getting it. The belief that the
mentally ill are the misfits of society must end." Mental Disorders and
Lack of Psychiatric TreatmentAccording to the National Institute of
Mental Health (NIMH), one out of four adults, or approximately 26.2
percent of the adult population in the United States suffers from mental
illness. That is close to 58 million people. However, it is estimated
that two thirds of these people do not seek treatment. "It is a great
loss to society, and a waste of human potential for people not to get the
treatment they need," said Dr. Alljou. "So many mental disorders have an
organic cause, like heart disease or cancer, and can be treated with
medication. Why the Stigma of Mental Illness is Alive and WellThere are
several reasons why the stigma of mental illness still exists in
contemporary society. Attitudes develop early on and without proper
education, these attitudes are very difficult to change. It's not only
society that maintains prejudicial views against the mentally ill. These
views can extend to the families of the victim, the victim, and even the
medical profession. "It's very difficult to shake the notion that you are
of lesser value as a human being if you have a mental illness," said Dr.
Alljou. "It's a vicious cycle. People will avoid the mentally ill to
avoid the stigma spreading to them by association. Sadly, there is also
the labeling of the mentally ill as bizarre, unstable, unpredictable,
dangerous, lazy, and emotionally weak."The disabled person, who already
believes mental illness is a stigma, is in the worst position of all to
try and fight society's attitudes. The ultimate consequences of lack of
treatment can be tragic. Many see no way out of their dilemma and commit
suicide out of despair and hopelessness.What can be done to change the
Perception of Mental Illness?According to Dr. Alljou, "The key to
eliminating the stigma of mental illness is education. The public and
even medical professionals need to treat mental illness no differently
than any other disease." For further information on psychiatric treatment
options for mental and emotional problems, ccontact Dr. Lisa Alloju.

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