One in four of us is likely to experience a mental health problem at some point in our lives. One in four means that mental health problems touch many people. It could be your Dad, your aunt, your sister, your child or your best friend. How would you react?
Mental health problems are nothing to be ashamed of as they are part of the ups and downs of life, but, many people who suffer from a mental illness are too afraid and embarrassed to tell friends, colleagues and even family for fear of the way they might react. And that is why a stigma reduction program is so important.
The stigma accorded mental illness acts as a barrier to individuals who need help. So, they delay seeking medical assistance for fear that someone might discover their secret.
People in the workplace who experience mental health problems should have the same rights as the other workers on the job, but, most employees interviewed admitted that they would not feel comfortable working with someone with a mental health problem.
The diagnoses such as psychosis, bipolar disorder, depression and schizophrenia, are seen as life-long labels which mark the person as being different from the rest of society. The stigma and resultant discrimination is almost as difficult to navigate as the illness itself.
Increased public understanding of mental health issues require action at every level of society. The first step in doing so is to reduce the stigma by using targeted public education activities that are designed to provide people with factual information about these illnesses and to suggest strategies for enhancing and enriching mental health in general.