Consumers’ Experience of Stigma
Mental illness can be considered one of the most apprehensive health issues in Australia as it has becoming increasingly obvious and deteriorated (Australian Institution of Health and Welfare 2010). According to Australian Bureau of Statistics (2008), in 2007, approximately 45.5% of total Australian people experienced a mental health problem over their lifetime, whereas 20% suffered symptoms of a mental health problem over one year. People who have been diagnosed with mental illness are among the most stigmatized, disregarded, discriminated, helpless, underprivileged and impuissant groups in Australian society (Overton & Medina 2008). To be specific, individuals with mental health problems are affiliated with twin challenges (Corrigan & Watson 2002). On the one hand, they are suffered by the symptoms and incapacity of disease itself (Corrigan & Watson 2002). On the other hand, they often cope with the stereotypes, prejudice, and discrimination that emerge from misunderstandings of this disease (Corrigan &Watson 2002). Negative conceptions and assumptions related to mental illness possibly as destructive as illness itself (Overton & Medina). Social stigma of mental illness remarkably restricts opportunities for individuals such as good housing, intimate relationship, and employment (Corrigan, Roe & Tsang 2011). More importantly, the mental illness stigma is one of the significant obstacles t o the speed of recovery and provision of care for people with this health problem (Sartorius 2007). The aim of this paper is to provide a comprehensive understanding of mental illness related stigma, and discuss the possible sources and consequences of stigma for individuals who experience mental health problems through an examination of, and references to a range of relevant literatures, along with consumers’ experiences. The term ‘stigma’ was initially generalized in sociology by Golffman (1963), who used it to refer to a characteristic that is extremely dishonoring, disgracing and decreases a entire and normal individual to a stained and disregarded one (Mental Health Council of Australia 2011). Contemporarily, stigma has been considered as the recognition of some identified people who have less worthy of respect than other people (Carr & Halpin 2002; Stuart, 2008). It is involuntary and often caused by a deficiency of understanding and fear (Carr & Halpin 2002). Stigma against individuals with a mental illness often consists incorrect and scathing representations of them as brutal, ridiculous and incapable, which can finally result in individuals having negative attitudes, behaviours and feelings of themselves (Overton & Medina 2008).
There are several possible sources that severely develop and reinforce stigma on mental illness such as media, health professionals and members of ...