Attitudes of College Students Toward Mental Illness Stigma

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TITLE:- Attitudes of college students toward mental illness stigma

BACKGROUND

Mental illness stigma remains a significant barrier to treatment in our society. Individuals who suffer from mental illness have been stigmatized throughout history. Though destigmatization efforts began early in the 18th century, the view that mental illness is a character problem has persisted. Stigma and mental illness

Stigma is something judged by others as a sign of disgrace and something that sets a person apart from others. When something like mental illness, disability or addiction, is stigmatised, the issue will often be avoided due to making people feel uncomfortable. People may even mock these things to make them less threatening. For those living with mental illness, the stigma imposed upon them in society can lead to a lack of funding for services and public education, difficulty in finding employment, etc. Ultimately, the silence and lack of understanding about mental illness encourages feelings of shame, and discourages people to seek treatment or even to admit that symptoms they may be experiencing may be related to a mental illness. Why mental illness?

How is it that mental illness remains one of the few subjects that can be so easily dismissed by society, or worse, openly mocked? This is largely due to cultural beliefs about mental illness. Images and derogatory language in the media maintain beliefs about mental illness being incurable madness.

Due to this lack of knowledge and the influence of stereotypes in media, the general public tend to view the mentally ill as unpredictable, responsible for their bizarre beliefs and behaviour, incapable of rational thought, and probably dangerous. When these beliefs filter through society at many levels it is no surprise that the mentally ill often find themselves socially excluded and isolated. Additionally, recent studies have shown that stigmatizing attitudes towards people with mental illness are widespread (Byrene, 1997; Link et al., 1997; Jorm et al., 1999) and are commonly held (Porter, 1998). People tend to react in a very discriminating way towards mentally ill patients almost in every section of society (Farina, 1998). People with severe mental illness are never viewed more favorably than someone with any other defaming disadvantages (e.g., blindness, cancer, dwarfism, leprosy, etc.). Neki (1966) also shared the same finding in his study that was carried out as a research project at Amritsar, which was funded by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR). On the basis of a survey, he drew the conclusion that a sizable section of population fears and tends to strangely reject the mentally ill patients. Moreover, lack of scientific knowledge about mental illness further encourages this kind of behavior (Wolff et al., 1996). On the other hand, cross-sectional studies have shown that members of the general public who have more knowledge about mental illness are less likely to endorse stigmatizing attitudes (Link et al., 1997). Perception about mental illness among college students

Every section of society has its unique way of perception about mental illness, particularly the young generation and college-going students. College has remained the best place to develop a comprehensive mental health program, because the attitude and values of college-going students influence the society most. Research has convincingly shown that people who have experienced psychiatric problems are feared, disliked and broadly rejected by society, and in the aggregate it makes the presence of stigmatization plain. Approximately 75% of all mental disorders emerge prior to the age of 24, American College Health Association National College Health Assessment demonstrated that 17.5% of college students had experienced depression and 12.7% had experienced an anxiety disorder. Problems with depression and/or anxiety were rated as the fifth most prevalent academic impediment, and 7.5% of...
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