Stigma is a mark of disgrace that sets a person apart. When a person is labeled by their illness they are seen as part of a stereotyped group. Negative attitudes create prejudice which leads to negative actions and discrimination.

For more information and basic definitions, check out National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI)

People with Mental Illness Often Face The Following Issues:

Homelessness and Job Stability Issues – Mental illness makes it challenging to cope with the demands of everyday life. Whether it’s struggling to get out of bed for work because of depression or experiencing communication difficulties due to schizophrenia, the longer mental illness is left untreated, the more likely it is to interfere with your ability to do your job and effectively interact with others. This can lead to financial troubles, job loss, and potentially even homelessness. And all of these challenges, of course, can further complicate your mental illness, making it increasingly difficult to pull yourself out of a challenging situation.


Chronic Physical Health Problems – Chronic mental health issues may cause you to neglect your health, as when a diabetic is too depressed to monitor his or her blood sugar levels. Mental illness can cause health problems all its own. Chronic stress is associated with a risk of heart attacks, stroke, obesity, and premature death, and many other symptoms associated with mental illness can also lead to serious health issues.


Incarceration – Mental Illness can make it more difficult to conform to society’s norms. For instance, a woman with PTSD pulled over by the police may enter a flashback, causing her to behave in an apparently non-compliant manner. A man with depression may feel so sad he’s unable to muster the energy to pay a traffic ticket, eventually leading to the issuance of a warrant. Seventy-three percent of female state prison inmates and 55% of men have a serious mental illness.


Victimization and Trauma – When your brain undermines your ability to react, feel happy, or think clearly, you’re more vulnerable to victimization. This can set off a chain reaction of victimization, followed by PTSD, followed by unusual behavior that leads to even more victimization. People with mental illnesses are significantly more likely to be victimized than those in the general population.


Worsening Mental Health Problems – Mental illness will not go away on its own, and the longer it persists, the harder it is to treat. Left untreated, they may begin to experience the full range of depression symptoms, necessitating more intensive treatment and a more uncertain recovery journey.


Unexplained Aches and Pains – You might involuntarily tense your muscles, leading to headaches and muscle pain. Chronic stress will lead to gastrointestinal distress. It’s common for people with underlying mental health problems to complain of aches and pains that have no physical source. If you tense your shoulder in response to stress, for example, you might eventually develop a painful or debilitating shoulder injury that worsens both your physical and mental health.


Suicide – Mental illness isn’t a lack of coping skills or a personal failure. It’s a serious, and potentially life-threatening, illness. Left untreated, mental illness can make life so intolerable—and cloud your judgment so thoroughly—that you see no way out and no hope. Life with mental illness is hard, and for some, it’s unbearable. More than 90% of suicides are directly attributable to untreated mental illness.

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