Research paper on negative stigma regarding mental illness and how to prevent it. I used in-text citations for the research paper but decided not to include it. Everything was cited properly. I'd like some feedback on the information I presented. Can you please read my introduction, thesis statement and see if I did a decent job from beginning to conclusion? I feel like the conclusion is lacking but am unsure how to approach it.
Tackling the Negative Stigma on Mental Illness
Nearly 1 in 5 Americans suffer from mental illness each year in the United States. About 50% of people with serious mental illnesses are untreated each year ("50% of Mentally Ill Untreated") With these statistics, it is very possible that someone you know may be affected by it. Despite the prevalence of mental illness in the United States, there is such a negative stigma on issues of mental health. The negative stigma on mental illnesses seriously impedes the lives of those affected, we must take steps to prevent and eventually stop the stigmatization of mental illness.
At one point in everyone's lives, they've probably heard of at least one type of mental illness. Anxiety/panic disorders, bipolar disorder, depression, schizophrenia, or substance abuse & addiction are a few of the common mental health issues ("Types of Mental Illness"). Negative stigma, or negative attitudes and beliefs towards people afflicted with mental disorders are common ("Mental health: Overcoming the stigma of mental illness"). What is negative stigma? Negative stigma is when someone or something is viewed in a negative way and it can lead to discrimination ("Mental health: Overcoming the stigma of mental illness"). One can even discriminate or judge themselves when affected with mental illness ("Mental health: Overcoming the stigma of mental illness"). The fear of being judged or looked down upon by society for having a mental illness can have a crippling effect, which is not seeking help.
Having a mental illness can be dehabilating because it can impede the lives of those affected. People with mental illnesses experience more stigma than those with other health problems. "Stigma is principally a psychological and social phenomenon," and is perpetuated by misinformation. Despite the increasing access to information, the mass majority are still ill-informed about mental illnesses (Mantovani). Why is that? Regardless of how much information is available or how accessible it is to the public, negative stigma can make even the most educated of individuals fall victim to prejudice. There was a study conducted to test the effectiveness of educating medical professionals on the prejudices they may have towards those with mental illnesses (Papish). Although the outcome of the study proved to be fruitful and yielded in more medical professionals being aware of their prejudices and to practice making more unbiased observations in their patients, it is obvious to see that even medical professionals have negative stigmas regarding mental health issues.
As if having a mental illness is not bad enough, those afflicted with mental illnesses are challenged doubly, from the disease and the stereotypes/discrimination from the disease. Those afflicted with mental illnesses are already struggling with the symptoms and disabilities that result from the illnesses (Corrigan). Medical professionals have an equal or even greater degree of prejudice towards those with mental illnesses compared to the general public (Papish). This prejudice makes a patient unable to get the best healthcare or treatment. Even with the best treatment or course of medications to tackles symptoms of certain mental health issues like depression, they are not always effective. There will be days where there are highs and lows, medication are not a cure-all (Billitteri). So those without access to great health care or a supportive network are just set up to fail when it comes to living a "normal" life.
When it comes to laws and regulations made to protect those with mental illnesses, more are catered to support of business groups and organizations against mental health issues. Leslie Mendez was an applicant to the Peace Corps with an exemplary resume. After being invited to join the Peace Corps, Ms. Mendez was informed shortly thereafter that her invitation had been revoked due to the fact that she took medication for her depression (Billitteri). Such a prominent organization like Peace Corps had rules and guidelines in effect that prevented those afflicted with mental illness from prospering. Although there are guidelines to by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, EEOC, and American with Disabilities Act, ADA, made to protect people with mental illness, the rules are unclear (Billiteri). Guidelines and policies can be challenged or questioned. These guidelines and policies must be revisited so that they can provide more protection to the 1 in 5 Americans affected by mental illnesses.
What can be done to prevent and eventually stop the stigmatization of mental illnesses? It is very important to intervene during infancy, childhood, adolescence and youth when it comes to the prevention of stigmatization of mental illnesses (Furber). As Furber had stated, like diabetes, with early intervention and education, those affected by it can live a long and healthy life. Steps for early education (and thus prevention) should be taken like Representative George Grady who created a bill to combat mental illness stigma. This representative's bill would require schools to teach students to recognize symptoms of mental illnesses, like depression, and to emphasize that mental illnesses are common, inherited and treatable (Becker). It is with hope that these steps towards early prevention can allow people to grow up with an unbiased understanding of mental illness to stop the perpetuation of misinformation and negative stigma.
With more education, policy change, and the deprogramming of the belief that mental illness is a bad thing, it is possible to stop negative stigma surrounding mental health. The 50% of Americans that are untreated due to fear of being judged or criticized can hopefully one day look forward to no judgement. That way, everyone will be able to live a "normal" life, one with good health.