Mental health is Tuttə: how to eradicate stigma and prejudice towards mental health

We speak more and more openly of mental health, both in the newspapers, on social networks and on blogs. Many people (both showing characters and not) share their experiences concerning mental health through these means of communication. All this in order to try to break down prejudices and stigma, making people affected by the same problem feel less sun and to raise awareness even those who do not suffer from it.

Very often, however, those who are not affected by any psychic discomfort, see this news as far away from them (when we know that mental health problems affect 1 person out of 4). They think that they will never happen to them, but when it happens - whether it is firsthand, their family or friends - completely change their attitude.

I still remember that time I knew a person dear to me who had to do with mental health problems that I had studied only on university books. Despite my theoretical knowledge of the topic, I was also pervaded by a thousand doubts and concerns. I started asking myself: "But will this person ever be good?", "Now he says he is drinking, but will it always be like that?", "What if he were dangerous for himself and for others?".
While I asked myself these questions I felt terribly guilty and I was also ashamed to think these things, because I knew rationally as much as these concerns were unfounded. I understood that my problem was the fear of the unknown, of something I had not yet experienced, and of the stigma that I had unconsciously learned over the years. Since then I have been increasingly interested in these issues.


But what is meant by mental health?

Mental health is considered by the World Health Organization (WHO) an essential component for general well -being. It is defined as "A state of well -being in which a person can realize himself, overcome the tensions of everyday life, carry out a productive work and contribute to the life of his community".

Therefore, mental health does not only concern the well -being of the individual, but also of society. Mental health is widely influenced by the context in which it is immersed, but also by personal characteristics (such as genetic heritage, what transmitted to us our parents, our experience, etc.). Precisely because mental health is influenced by all these aspects, it is constantly changing: it is not a fixed condition, but they have been changing (for the better or worse) over time.
Precisely in light of these different influences that can determine our state of mental health, we can say that the latter is not a fixed condition, but is constantly changing along the course of life. A precarious balance that requires continuous search for stability, especially following critical events such as mourning, diseases, separations. For these reasons, mental health knows no age or social and economic status. A psychological or psychiatric problem can affect anyone, indiscriminately.


Stigma, prejudices and discrimination on psychic inconveniences

The word stigma is a word of Greek origin, which indicates the signs that were engraved on the body to highlight morally negative attributes. It was a way to label these people as unacceptable, different. Among people with mental inconvenience, almost 9 out of 10 people said that stigma and discrimination have negatively conditioned their existences.
Most of the time, it is not only the psychic distress that generates the seriousness of the situation, but also the degree of acceptance by family, friends, workplace, of society. The prejudice that derives from fear and misunderstanding causes the person to feel more and more isolated and marginalized, thus influencing the quality of his life.

Among the most common prejudices compared to mental health there are the conception of the person with a mental discomfort as a potentially dangerous, incurable person, un arranged, a weak "Matterma", an unproductive person without working skills, irresponsible, labeled as " unable to understand and want ".

Recognizing responsibility, however, does not mean believing a priori that people with mental disorder are totally free and responsible. Instead, it means that they must work to maintain their individuality, despite the cognitive, emotional and social conditioning.


How to definitively eliminate stigma and prejudices?

In order for prejudice to people with mental health problems to be unhinged, different actions are appropriate to improve the quality of their lives.

First, it is necessary to search for adequate care. Not all people with mental disorder decide to cure themselves, because they are afraid of being labeled. All this, however, does nothing but worsen the symptoms and negatively influence the working and social life of the person who needs help.
The stigma must not cause a lack of self -esteem and shame, through the encounter with people in the same condition, so that it does not be island and do not let it be the psychic discomfort to define who I am. In this regard, support groups can be useful, both national and local.

A further step that should be taken to eliminate prejudices on mental health would consist in improving and expanding psychological assistance in public structures. The absence of the figure of the psychologist in some public structures, such as hospitals, can reinforce the conception that mental health is a need for Serie B, not strictly necessary.

Therefore, people with economic difficulties and with problems related to the psyche must contact private entities, finding difficulties in finding professionals who offer services at subsidized prices. Certainly the Ministry of Health has made a first step forward, through the establishment of the psychologist bonus (which allows access to a bonus based on the ISEE, therefore not for everyone), but it is not enough. However, I hope that this can be a first turning point as regards the protection of mental health.


Antonella Patalano

Ti è piaciuto l'articolo?
Join the mestrual revolution

Leave a comment

Add other products to the cart