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Mental health stigma stronger in campuses, says study

Mental health stigma stronger in campuses, says study

27 March | 0 Comments | By Rachael

Mental health conditions are often looked down upon in a society. Due to the forbidden status associated with the mental disorders and illnesses, people suffering from the conditions either ignore their illness or lie low about them. In fact, they not only stay tight lipped but also deny suffering from any condition, which further prevents them from seeking a medical diagnosis and undergoing treatment. This results in the condition getting aggravated, causing even greater damage.

A new study has stated that not only the society, but even the college campuses are plagued by this mindset. According to researchers at University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), college campuses witness a higher stigma toward mental health treatment among students, due to which only a few exhibit treatment-seeking behavior.

The trend was observed in an online survey, launched in 2007 and data from Healthy Minds Study was examined. The survey, conducted at more than 150 colleges and universities, examines issues related to mental health and service utilization among undergraduate and graduate students in the United States. Having examined data collected between 2009 and 2015, collected from around 62,756 students from 75 institutions, the sociology professor from UCLA, S. Michael Gaddis said that they found larger variation in levels of stigma across campuses than they had expected.

While identifying the levels of stigma prevailing in the institutions, the researchers observed that the respondents were hesitant to befriend anybody with a mental condition. Additionally, when asked if their opinion about a person would change if they knew that the person had been treated for a mental illness, the responses were based on a sliding scale. Also, they were less likely to admit to suicidal thoughts or harming themselves if they attended school in high-stigma environments. “This indicates that in places where their peers are stigmatizing mental health treatment, students do not want to even acknowledge their mental health struggles,” Gaddis said.

When asked about their approach towards formal treatment, majority of the students (from higher levels of stigma) talked about seeking informal treatment from a family member, a roommate, a friend, a generic support group, or a religious leader or group of some kind, in case the need arose.

Discrimination against mental disorder

Since ages, mental illnesses are regarded as a curse and burden. As a result, people suffering from the condition are either boycotted or left in solitude, discouraging people from opening up about their mental disorder or to step out of their homes to seek professional help. However, the fact is that mental disorders are similar to any physical ailment and can occur due to a range of reasons, like genetic predisposition, traumatic experiences, environmental stressors or substance abuse.

It is very difficult to predetermine the occurrence of mental disorder conditions. However, like physical health conditions, mental disorders also exhibit signs and symptoms. Recognizing these symptoms can help in preventing a worsening of the condition and attaining early recovery.

In case of teenagers and college students, they are exposed to heavy competition and peer pressure which further makes them vulnerable to mental disorders. However, the prevailing stigma associated with mental disorders prevent them from seeking a medical help as they think that would dent their social image and also cause hindrance the growth of their career and future.

Dealing with mental health illnesses

Mental illnesses are medical conditions which have scientific proof and findings. They are real and occur due to imbalances in the chemical composition of the brain and its components. People need to be educated about the truth and facts surrounding mental disorder, so that the conditions could be destigmatized. Seeking immediate medical help must be encouraged, instead of resorting to religious beliefs and practices.

Mental disorders are treatable conditions and recovery can be achieved with medication and therapies. However, treatment of a mental disorder necessarily requires the individual to undergo a clinical assessment conducted by a licensed medical practitioner to determine the type, degree and duration of the condition accurately. Basis the diagnosis, an effective treatment method can be decided.

Therefore, if you or your loved one is suffering from any mental health condition or experiencing any symptoms, you can seek help from Arizona Mental Health Helpline. You can call our 24/7 helpline number (866) 606-7791 or chat online to speak with our experts on mental health treatment centers Arizona.