The Label of Mental Illness or Disability

Subject: Psychiatry
Pages: 10
Words: 2542
Reading time:
9 min
Study level: College

There is no use denying the fact that people are different. Some of them have a talent for one activity while others can perform some other actions better. At the dawn of civilization, people started to perform the kinds of activities they could to the best and since that time every person obtained his/her own field of interests or occupation which helped to determine him/her as a part of society.

Communities of the past were rather mercantile, and that is wperson’ssons importance for society was determined by the kind of activity he/she performed and the grade of its usefulness. People, who were not able to give something to society or help it in its development, were not taken as its part and were considered to be useless no matter what reasons prevented them from being useful. It is obvious that the label of a useless person hit a man hard.

However, things changed. Societies obtained new values and priorities, trying to develop in order to become more prosperous. However, the understanding that all people are equal, and it is impossible to judge the person by the kind of activity he/she performs, came not so much time ago. With this in mind, it is possible to say that the modern age can be characterized by the blistering development of such notions as tolerance, democracy, and humanism.

However, the thirst for labeling did not disappear. There is still another attitude towards people who differ from the majority, though society tries to hide it. Individuals who are labeled as mentally sick or disabled belong to this group. It is very difficult for them to survive. Moreover, the attitude of society and this label make the situation even worse, promoting the appearance of some deviations of personality. With this in mind, it is possible to analyze the impact of the label of mental illness or disability on the individual to understand its peculiarities better.

First of all, it should be said that these labels are not new. Even in ancient times, people had some special words and attitudes to people who had some problems with their minds or consciousness. The attitude towards these people was different, starting with admiration and respect, as they were considered to be chosen by gods, and ending with scorn and aversion. However, with the further development of science, people understood the character of these disorders, and the term mental illness appeared.

Modern science determines mental disorder” as “disturbances of thought, experience, and emotion serious enough to cause functional impairment in people, making it more difficult for them to sustain interpersonal relationships and carry on their jobs, and somebehaviording to self-destructive behaviour and even su” ide” (Perring, 2010, para. 3). As it becomes obvious from the definition, it is rather difficult for people of this kind to perform some social activity or be involved in interpersonal relations. However, society makes the life of these people even more complicated following some outdated stereotypes which cannot exist in the age of tolerance and democracy.

Additionally, this special attitude exists not only between people though; some governmental organizations and other companies promote the development of stereotypes not hiring people, refusing to give them a job, or creating some special conditions for people who can be characterized by the presence of some mental disorder. That is why, having understood the main reasons for the appearance of disorders of this sort, society is still not ready to take people, who suffer from it, as its members.

The situation is even more complicated for people who have some kind of disability or who have a clear conscience, though, who are deprived of the possibility to perform some kind of physical activity. They are taken as people with a physical disability, which is determined” as “a limitation person’sson’s physical functioning, mobility, dexterity or st” ina” (EducationEmployment, n.d., para. 1). People who suffer from it are even more helpless and dependant on society.

Their illnesses are severe, and they deprive people of the possibility to be a part of society. Moreover, people of this kind are labeled as those who are absolutely useless and deserve only compassion. Additionally, disability very often serves as the main reason for people to change their attitude towards a person and create some special conditions for him/her. Nevertheless, physical disability can cause even more suffering for a person as his/her mind works well while the body refuses to function.

That is why a person realizes his/her disability. This recognition makes a person suffer, as he/she wants to be a part of society, though it rejects this person because he/she is not able to perform some kind of activity or be equal with the rest of people. That is why, having analyzed the current state of affairs connected with the issue of mental illness or disability, it is possible to say that even in the modern age, the situation is very complicated and needs further investigation for people to be able to understand the main needs of these people and change their attitude towards them.

Analyzing this very issue, it is possible to say that, unfortunately, society does not change its attitude towards people with such types of disorders. The thing is that beliefs about such kinds of disorders are created under the influence of personal knowledge about mental illness, knowing and interacting with someone living with mental illness, cultural stereotypes about mental illness, media stories, and familiarity with institutional practices and past restrictions.

(Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2012). Very often, this experience is expressed negatively, and people are influenced by the image created under the influence of these negative emotions. There is a special term stigma which is used to describe the set of attitudes towards this is”e. “Stigma has been described as ―a cluster of negative attitudes and beliefs that motivate the general public to fear, reject, avoid, anillnessscriminate against people with mental illn” ses” (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2012, p. 3).

Very often, stigma can lead to social exclusion, and, as a result, a person can become deprived of some social resources. Moreover, there is even the tendency for worsening of the situation (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2012). Being rather pragmatic, the modern age can be characterized by the appeals to reduce the amount of money which is given to support these people and create good conditions for their treatment and living. With this in mind, it is possible to say that the tendency to judge people by these disorders preserves. According to some researches, the majority of people who live in the Western world have stigmatizing attitudes about mental illness (Boston University, n.d.).

Additionally, the issue is complicated by the fact that even professionals, who work with these disorders and are supposed to be tolerant and fair, subscribe to stereotypes about mental illness (Bjorkman, Angelman, & Jonsson, 2008). That is why it is possible to speak about the total prevalence of such sort of attitude in society and the western world. It should be said that according to statistical research (Corrigan & Watson, 2002), the situation is better in Asian and African states, where people do not have the tendency for the appearance of stigmatizing attitudes connected with mental illnesses.

This fact can be explained by some peculiarities of the mentality of peoples who live in Asia and Africa (Bhugra, 1989). Being traditionally more tolerant, and, moreover, having experienced a great number of hardships, people who live there understand complexity or relations between a person and society, and that is why they try not to change the attitude towards people depending on the situation (Pande, Saini, & Chaudhury, 2011).

It is obvious that there is a great number of negative consequences of existing negative attitudes towards people with mental illness or disability. First of all, it should be said that understanding the attitude towards people who suffer from illnesses of this kind, a person, who also needs some help connected with similar disorders, will obviously try to hide these problems because of the fear to be deprived of social life and some other activities.

That is why it is possible to say that embarrassment connected to people’ssles attitude towards such kinds of problems is one of the many barriers that cause people to hide their symptoms and prevent them from getting necessary treatment for their mental illness symptoms (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2012). With this in mind, it is possible to say that illness develops and leads to some severe complications, while well-timed consultation with the specialist could have helped a person and stop the illness at the first stage.

Additionally, the attitude which dominates in society influences the policy of the government and the amount of money given to this sphere in order to create some special conditions or develop new kinds of treatment for people who suffer from mental illnesses. It can also pose challenges for staff retention in mental health settings, result in poorer quality of medical care administered to people with mental illness, and create fundraising challenges for organizations who serve people with mental illness and their families (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2012).

However, it is obvious that people who suffer from these mental illnesses are influenced by the unfair and negative attitude most of all. Except for the necessity to struggle with the symptoms and disabilities which result from the disease, they are also challenged by the stereotypes and prejudice that result from misconceptions about mental illness (Corrigan & Watson, 2002). As a result, they become deprived of good jobs, homes, and traditional interpersonal relations. Moreover, there are also some other ways in which public stigma influences the self-stigma of these people and make their life complicated.

First of all, a person can lose any hope and thirst for life. It is a very threatening tendency as these two factors are very important for a person who struggles with some disease. Under the influence of social opinion, a person realizes that the attitude towards him/her will not be changed because of the existing stereotypes. Even a complete cure is not the guaranty of a change in the attitude towards this person. That is why any desire to continue the struggle and, moreover, visit a doctor disappears.

The last fact can be very dangerous in terms of the course of treatment. Having no desire to recover, a person can miss or forget about consultations with a doctor, and the process of recovery can be prolonged or even useless. Additionally, the mental health of a person, impoverished by the illness, can become even more damaged by the distrust and pity shown by society. With this in mind, it is possible to say that a change of attitude is needed for people to obtain some hope and belief that they will be supported by society in their struggle against this difficult illness.

Moreover, there is another unpleasant aftermath of the negative attitude of society towards these people. Being labeled as mentally ill, these people very often suffer from authoritarianism. The thing is that they are taken as people who need to care and, moreover, people believe that all decisions should also be made instead of them.

That is why, very often people, who suffer from mental illnesses, find themselves in situations when some decision, which they do not like, is made and they have no opportunity to change it because of the stereotypes and even some laws which regulate the life of these people. Additionally, there is a great number of cases when a person is able to make decisions. However, his/her opinion is not interesting for people who care about him/her as a healthy person acts, taking into account only his/her own interests.

Additionally, there is another aspect that shows the negative impact of the label of mental illness on a person. It is connected with the sphere of social communication. Very often, disabled, mentally sick people become the main characters of some movies or stories. However, they are not described as positive heroes. Unfortunately, means of mass media form the negative image of these people, describing them as people with mental illness are homicidal maniacs who are to be feared, they have childlike perceptions of the world that should be marveled at, or they are responsible for their illness because they have weak character (Perring, 2010).

That is why a person who does not have enough knowledge in this sphere can accept this image and consider it to be the only real description of people of this kind. That is why people become deprived of communication, and social interaction as society is just afraid of them. At the same time, mentally disabled people have a great need for communication and support, especially at the first stages of their illness. Being deprived of communication, a person becomes introspective, and his/her symptoms develop much faster. That is why the pernicious influence of social isolation, which appears due to the negative attitude towards sick people, cannot be denied.

However, it should also be said that there are some cases that show that a negative attitude can serve as a good impetus for a person to start acting. Being treated as an invalid member of society and shown only pity, a disabled person can obtain a desire to prove to society that he is able to achieve some success and become rather successful and independent. In such cases, a person acts with the desire to change the attitude of society towards him/her.

Additionally, the desire to show his/her utility for society can also serve as a good motif. There is a great number of examples that prove this statement. The life of an American mathematician, John Forbes Nash, can be taken as good evidence. Suffering from schizophrenia, he though managed to overcome this illness and become an outstanding mathematician and Nobel laureate. That is why it is possible to say that mentally sick people are able to achieve some success. However, it is very difficult for them to do it because of the attitude of society.

Having analyzed the main aspects of the impact of the label of mentally sick on a person, it is possible to make several conclusions. It is obvious that there is some tendency for the appearance of a negative attitude towards people who suffer from different mental illnesses. According to statistical data, the majority of people in the Western world have stigmatizing attitudes about mental illness, which means that people often follow some stereotypes which are connected with the life of sick people. This negative attitude results in the appearance of a great number of problems for mentally sick people. They become deprived of communication and social life.

Moreover, it becomes impossible for them to obtain a good job and fair treatment. Additionally, some problems connected with the treatment of a person appear as being afraid of social discontent. Sick people hide their symptoms and do not consult with specialists, which leads to the further development of illness. With this in mind, it is possible to say that a change in attitude is needed as people should be given a chance to improve their lives and become part of society.

Reference List

Boston University. (n.d.). What is Psychiatric Disability and Mental Illness?. Web.

Bhugra, D (1989). Attitudes towards mental illness. A review of the literature. Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavica. 80 (1). 1-12. Web.

Bjorkman, T., Angelman, T. & Jonsson, M. (2008). Attitudes towards people with mental illness: a cross-sectional study among nursing staff in psychiatric and somatic care. Scandinavian Journal of Caring Sciences. 22(2). 170-7. Web.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (, 2012). Attitudes towards mental illness. Web.

Corrigan, P. & Watson, A. (2002). Understanding the impact of stigma on people with mental illness. World Psychiatry. 1(1). 16-20. Web.

EducationEmployment. (n.d.). Physical disability. Web.

Pande, V., Saini, R. & Chaudhury, S. (2011). Attitude toward mental illness amongst urban nonpsychiatric health professionals. Indian Psychiatry Journal. 20(1). 17-20. Web.

Perring, C. (2010). Mental Illness. The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Web.