Canadian Mental Health Association

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According to Canadian Mental Health Association (2016), stigma is the �negative stereotype� and discrimination is the �behavior that results from this negative stereotype.� People with mental disorders are stigmatized and discriminated. There are 3 areas that resonate with me from this resource. First, I, as other people, are used to assuming all the people with mental illness are the same regardless of different types of mental disorders and patients� personalities. I barely focus on the individuals. Therefore, if one patient is homeless due to substance abuse, I easily prejudge all the homeless people have addicted to substances without considering social issues behind them, such as living conditions, employment, incomes, and so forth. Second, the impact of public attitudes should not be overlooked. I do believe the opportunities for employment and education are more likely reduced for those people who have the history of mental illness due to the misunderstandings and fears from the public. I do not deny the instant reaction for me towards the aggressive people is the fears rather than thinking the causes and their feelings. Third, according to University of Guelph (2016), 42% said they would no longer socialize with a friend diagnosed with mental illness. I am one of them, reluctant to get closer to the people with mental illness, except for work. I have to say my negative stereotype comes from the public attitudes against the mental illness patients. This stigma would impact patients� self-esteem, and they may feel isolated and helpless.
Although the stigma and mental illness are interweaved, as a nurse, I should advocate for this group of people and treat them in a professional way, which means non-judgmental. According to Mental Health Commission (2016), we all have a role in terms of supporting recovery, social inclusion, and reducing discrimination. Above goals resonate with me as people with mental illness are part of our society and they deserve to be respected as equal as other people. First, I should offer the same care to people with physically and mentally ill. I may take longer time to deal with mental illness patients, as they need more attentions and concerns due to the deficit of the insight. Second, we need to advocate for people with mental disorders against any negative attitudes and behaviors. Third, as many people feel embarrassed to tell their history of mental illness, we need to maintain the confidentiality and protect
their privacies. We are responsible for creating a safe and comfortable environment and allow mental illness people to share their stories with us.
In my work, stigma and discrimination against mental illness do exist. We often label people with substance abuse as lazy, lack of responsibilities, and unfaithful, especially for young people. In addition, we most focus on administrating sedative medication to aggressive patients, while barely communicate with them therapeutically. However, the good thing is we have started to screen patients in our floor, who are flipped from acute to rehab by using Patient Health Questionnaire regarding the depression. We are instructed to divert people with depression either to social workers or doctors based on the score. This is an exciting change and I involve in it actively. I not only assess my patients, but also remind my other colleagues to use the screening tool.
To wrap it up, I think the goal for us to know the stigma and discrimination against mental illness people is to put our effort in real work situation and make a positive change in order to deal with the stigmas.


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