Unnecessary Mental Health Stigmasby Shaheen E Lakhan, MD, PhD, MEd, MS, FAAN | July 21, 2006
Every year in the United States, approximately 44 million people are diagnosed with a mental disorder. Of those diagnosed, roughly 19 million suffer from depression and 4 million others suffer from some form of generalized anxiety disorder. Unfortunately, not everyone with a mental disorder seeks treatment. Of those who do, nearly 40% do not complete their prescribed treatment.
The most common reason cited for the failure to seek treatment is the stigma associated with mental health. In general, Americans have the inaccurate perception that individuals who suffer from a mental health disorder are dangerous, freaks, loonies, deviants, neurotics or psychotics.
The truth is that because of the negative “labels” placed on those diagnosed with a mental disorder, they are more likely to discontinue their treatment because they are embarrassed, ashamed or afraid. This process undermines the treatments prescribed and makes curing, or making life manageable for those who suffer, nearly impossible. Fortunately, research has proven that once diagnosed and treatment begins, individuals who maintain their prescribed treatment and medication are again able to function on a daily basis, are able to control their emotions, and even succeed in the workforce.
As we advance in the 21st century, we see improvements in medical technology. An enormous jump from the once barbaric lobotomies performed to learn how the brain functioned. In order for these medical advances to be a complete success, the stigma associated with mental health must be eliminated. With acceptance and support the stigma can be eliminated.
If you suffer from any of the many symptoms of a mental health disorder, don’t wait any longer. Contact a licensed psychologist or psychiatrist and schedule an appointment for an evaluation. Don’t continue to be one of the millions who suffer needlessly. With proper medication and treatment, life can be manageable and you can return to the once vibrant, productive person that you once were.
By: O. “Chip” Robinson
Editor: Shaheen Lakhan
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