Lecture 1 Discussion

1. I think there is so much stigma surrounding mental illness because it is not visible as other conditions present themselves. People can’t always see it, so they don’t believe it. If someone breaks an arm, they are littered with “get well soon” cards because there is a physical injury that others can see. Due to the stigma associated with mental illness, a self-stigma is formed as people are made to feel ashamed, question their own integrity, and are hesitant to seek help for their issues. People will tend to call those with mental illness harsh and inaccurate terms such as “crazy” and assume that they cannot function properly in society. Also, referring to a person as their illness takes away the individual and limits that person to being their disorder and nothing more. This, of course, is highly inaccurate and sets the expectation that the person is consumed by their disease and incapable of having a life beyond it. On social media platforms, only the highlights of people’s lives are being shared. This leads to expectations being set for how everyone “should” be living, but excludes the side to life with struggles and lows. Being exposed to all of the stigma the public imposes drastically alters the way people with mental illnesses are treated by others, as well as how they treat themselves. 

2. Culture can impact a person’s response to their mental illness in many ways. The way people of different cultures express their symptoms as well as how they desire treatment is widely varied. Some cultures traditionally hide their symptoms and/or do not wish to seek treatment for their illnesses. A cultural idiom of distress is a term or phrase that is used specific to a culture to express or describe their suffering. Different cultures may stigmatize mental illness, causing people to suppress their symptoms, especially since mental illness is one that cannot be physically seen on the body. Spirituality and religion also impact the way a person copes with their mental illness. By connecting these with the mental illness, a person is able to respond and understand their condition in a way that comforts them and aligns with their beliefs. Considering these aspects allows for additional therapeutic interventions that can help work towards a positive recovery or coping process for the person.