Prejudice against People with Mental Disorders – Consequences and Strategies
Consequences of Prejudice
The consequences of these stereotypes on people with mental disorders and their families include:
- Lack of respect and consideration
- People kept from seeking help, thus suffering needlessly
- Hostility, anger and frustration
- Hurt and wounded feelings
- Shunning and isolation
- Low self esteem
- Discouragement, disappointment and low expectations for life
- Suicide, and resulting trauma to the family left behind
- Discrimination in employment, housing, and other social activities
- Negative media images
- Insurance for physical, but not mental illness
- Cost to society at large. According the American Psychiatric Association, the direct costs of support and medical treatment of mental disorders total $55.4 billion a year. The indirect costs, such as lost employment, reduced productivity, criminal activity, vehicular accidents and social welfare programs increase the total cost of mental and substance abuse disorders to more than $273 billion a year.
Strategies for addressing Prejudice
- Education about mental health.
- Respect, Listening, Understanding – Treat the person with the mental disorder as a respected person, listening to them without judgment and trying to understand their problems.
- Challenge Inaccuracies. When you hear them, when you see them in the media.
- Advocacy. Become proactive in advocating for those with mental disorders and their families.
If you want to explore this topic further, two excellent books about research into the prejudice associated with Mental Illness are:
- Telling is Risky Business – Mental Health Consumers Confront Stigma, by Otto F. Wahl, Rutgers University Press, 1999.
- Don’t Call Me Nuts! – Coping with the Stigma of Mental Illness, by Patrick Corrigan and Robert Lundin, Chicago: Recovery Press, 2001.