Nowadays, modern health communities that work with mental health issues are trying to destigmatize various neural and physical disorders. It is stated the most crucial challenge in the psychiatric sphere is the identified discrimination and stigma toward patients suffering from psychological and mental issues. To begin with, stigmas are defined as stereotyped images of the dishonor of a social group that most communities have normalized.
Remarkably, the term public stigma is usually used to mention stereotypes based solely on global socio-cultural prejudices, opinions, and preconceptions. In comparison, internalized stigma is applied to describe how a particular mentally ill person constructs their identity while being influenced by societal stereotypes. Stigmas have always been a significant barrier to health and risk management in the medical sphere. Stigmas damage socio-political, physical and psychological states, furthermore, they have been shown to influence risk perceptions (Smith et al., 2016). Therefore, to prevent the increase of shaming of mental illnesses, one should explore the nature of stigma, the reasons behind it, and the expected consequences.
The Impact of Mental Health Stigma on Neurodivergent People
In the past ten years, in the sphere of social studies, people have developed the idea of how individual decisions in the educational system mostly unintentionally result in biased opinions and oppressive actions against neurodivergent members of society.
The stigmatization of mental health issues makes it harder for people to seek urgent and necessary help for their psychological state. Multiple social groups consider mental disorders the illnesses of the weak and support the forced treatment of neurodivergent people because they seem to be potentially violent. The interpersonal avoidance of the abuse of human rights, regarding limited rights to get educated, work, and function properly, and the following stigma cause a wide range of individual and collective prejudicial acts (WHO, 2017). For mentally ill people, such discrimination creates difficulties in finding proper treatment, housing, profession, loyal relationships, and so on.
The absence of access to many aspects of comfortable life compromises patients’ ability to have their physical state under control. Undoubtedly, being stigmatized consumes instrumental and socio-economic resources, causing various damaging results, such as unfair distribution of qualified education (Smith et al., 2018). Hence, discrimination against mental health issues leads to challenges in neurodivergent person’s life in every sphere of social communication and their safety and well-being. That is why social workers and scientists are always looking for innovative strategies for preventing discrimination.
Ways of Resolving Stigma
Initially, there are multiple highly effective approaches to dealing with discrimination against mental health disorders. Communication and education strategies developed by Modified Labeling Theory that have visible positive effects on the community cannot be overrated. To begin with, it is scientifically proven that there are five main coping mechanisms via which neurodivergent people deal with stigma: distance, withdrawal, education, as well as secrecy and challenge (Smith et al., 2016). Additionally, the methods can be described as avoiding possible discrimination, hiding personal information, refusing to be called a member of an oppressed minority, teaching people to debunk mental health myths, and standing up against prejudicial behavior. Moreover, Stigma Management Communication can mean that its policy is selected based on how people personally view stigma and their potential readiness to challenge harmful stereotypes.
The methods usually are divided into multiple categories, such as refusing, educating on communal responsibility, rejecting, reducing future damage, accepting, or being indifferent (Smith et al., 2016). It shows that teaching people about the damaging consequences of stereotypes and myths about mentally ill patients has perceptible and noticeable effects on decreasing present stigma. Therefore, past beliefs, attitudes, and behaviors towards neurodivergent people become somewhat outdated, which has a positive outcome for psychiatry everywhere.
In addition, clinical contact, psychoeducation, outreach, and advocacy prevent further stigmatization of the oppressed neurodivergent minorities. A person-centered approach provides a clearer understanding of how effectively to resolve the stigma. Hence, innovative outreach programs are made to destigmatize the treatment of patients with neurological differences. The programs related to stigma reduction are considered quite effective because of the usage of high-quality educational methods. The interventions based on every individual experience provide targeted data to destigmatize possible help-seeking communities (Wu et al., 2017).
Via the modernization of social systems, the scientific development in neurodiversity has become an effective method of avoiding outdated treatment models that perpetuate psychological conformity. Instead, innovations reinforce harmful stereotypes and support a better understanding of people with a spectrum of neurological differences.
To sum up, modern social studies finally represent how neurodivergent people suffer from prejudicial actions while dealing with their psychological health issues. The aforementioned innovative strategies, such as Modified Labeling Theory and Stigma Management Communication, pave the way for more progressive ideas for reducing the stigma deeply entrenched in Western society. The methods help educate the folk on real, proven information on mental health while debunking damaging and hurtful myths about the minorities. Moreover, the professionals use those tools to better the interpersonal communication with their patients, who could also be the victims of internal stigmatization and cerebral abuse caused by ignorant, unethical, and unprincipled behavior.
Smith, R. A., & Applegate, A. (2018). Mental health stigma and communication and their intersections with education. Communication Education, 67(3), 382-393.
Smith, R. A., Zhu, X., & Quesnell, M. (2016). Stigma and health/risk communication. In Oxford.
World Health Organization (2017). Mental health action plan 2013–2020. Geneva, SW: World Health Organization.
Wu, I. H., Bathje, G. J., Kalibatseva, Z., Sung, D., Leong, F. T., & Collins-Eaglin, J. (2017). Stigma, mental health, and counseling service use: A person-centered approach to mental health stigma profiles. Psychological services, 14(4), 490.