Stigma around mental health

Stigma around mental health

Common phrases like “I’m not crazy” or “Do I look like I belong in a loony bin?” still seem to be parallel to Psychology or counselling in Namibia in this day and age. The question needs to be asked; are people still so misinformed regarding mental health? Or is it more a case of self-stigmatisation? It deems necessary to inspect what brings about these misconceptions and whether it can be eliminated.

The stigma surrounding mental health may possibly stem from earlier beliefs that people with pathologies were viewed as crazy, violent or even possessed.

Such individuals were then labelled and cast out from society, either through discrimination or prejudice.  No single individual desires to walk around with a label around their neck or even worse, treated differently or inhumane because of something beyond their control.

As a result it may appear increasingly evident that people would attempt to suppress or ignore rearing evidence of pathologies in an attempt to feel socially accepted. Thus, evidence seems to point more towards self-stigmatisation. There may be fear, shame or low self-esteem that is experienced due to one’s perception of how society might react upon knowledge of mental ill health.

It can thus be deduced that if people’s own perceptions of others’ reactions towards mental health can be challenged, the battle may be half won. Thus aiming to create awareness could possibly be linked to challenging those with pathologies’ beliefs, attitudes, negative self-talk and ultimately increasing their willingness to seek help.

Then the question, ‘why is it important to diminish stigma surrounding mental health?’ For the mere reason that it could lead to a delay in recovery, resulting in a possible imbalance in family life, work life and ultimately affecting one’s role in society in general.

In retrospect, to strive towards a balanced society in Namibia, it is necessary to take hands and fight this battle as a nation. Creating awareness about the ever increasing importance of optimal mental health needs to begin with a shift in perception and a renewal of thinking patterns regarding the well-being of the next person.

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