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Stigma and Awareness Around Mental Health

Introduction to Mental Health Services in Australia

Mental health is the standard for psychological wellness or lack of mental disorder. This is also the condition of someone who "functions satisfactorily at a behavioral and emotional level." From an individual's point of view recovery of mental state includes obtaining and sustaining hope, getting an understanding of individual abilities and shortcomings, engaging in an active social life and attaining individual independence, social identity, purpose and significance in life, and a healthy sense of identity (Horwitz, 2020). It is identified that people had a stigma towards mentally ill people and a strong inclination towards patient social exclusion. Considering the stigma of people, in this essay the history of the stigma associated with mental health illness, the barrier of stigma around care for mental illness, the recovery model of care, and the steps that can be taken to help the patients with mental disorders has been discussed.

History of The Stigma of Mental Health Illness

Mental conditions are often more vulnerable to harsh stigmatization and stereotypes than any other type of illness. Most patients not only experience the crippling effects of disorder but often suffer from social alienation and discrimination. Until the mid-1970s, many clinicians claimed that mental health patients were destined to live with their condition indefinitely and could not contribute to the system. The stigmatization around mental health has a long history and the word 'stigmatization' itself indicates the derogatory connotations: a 'stigma' meant a sign for captives or prisoners in historical Greece (Karp, 2017). For decades, society has not viewed people suffering from autism, depression, schizophrenia, and other psychiatric problems differently from slaves or offenders: they have been incarcerated, killed or assassinated. Mental disorders were seen as a penalty by God during the Middle Ages: sufferers were believed to be possessed by the demon and burnt on the stakes or forced into jails and prisons and madhouses, in which they were tied to the walls, pillars or beds.

After the Renaissance, the mentally unhealthy were gradually freed from their chains, and hospitals were founded to assist mental illness sufferers (Rössler, 2016). Under the Nazi rule in Germany, however, stigma and prejudice reached an alarming height when hundreds and thousands of mentally unstable patients were killed or sterilized. Stigmatization of mental disorders continues to be a major social problem. The general public is generally unaware of this issue, and there is still widespread cynicism about the mentally ill. While no longer these people were killed, destroy, or violently murder as it was done Nazi Germany or the Middle Ages, our social standards and attitudes are insufficient for democratic welfare systems. Institutional discrimination against people with mental illness is still widespread, be it in legislation or attempts for rehabilitation (Huggett et al., 2018).

Stigma As a Barrier to Care

Stigma is when a mental condition causes others to view you in a derogatory way. Discrimination occurs when a mental condition causes others to treat you in a derogatory way. Social stigma and discrimination may worsen mental health issues and prevent a person from having the treatment they need. Stigmatization exists at various levels in the healthcare industry, including systemic (e.g., capital allocation, quality standards of treatment, company behavior), interpersonal (e.g., patient-carer communications, derogatory practices, negative stereotypes) and individual - level (e.g. patient unwillingness to receive care, self-stigma, provider unwillingness to report mental illness and their negative attitudes) (Knaak, Mantler, & Szeto, 2017). Mental health-related stigma particularly occurs within the health care system and with health care providers, has been described as a significant obstacle to receiving treatment and rehabilitation, as well as low-quality medical care for people with mental disorders. Stigma even influences health care providers' self-seeking attitudes and adversely alters their workplace environment.

Individuals with a mental disorder experience feel ignored, devalued, and demeaned by several of the health providers they came into contact with. Main issues involve feeling excluded from discussions, experiencing indirect or direct indications of unfair care, being forced to wait too long while seeking support, and being provided inadequate details about one's health or alternative treatments. The individuals are also handled in an oppressive or insulting manner, being told that they will never get better and talked about anything with using demeaning words (Dobransky, 2020). These types of problems create barriers that are associated with seeking help, inadequate therapeutic communication, discontinuation of treatment, patient health and safety issues, and poorer mental and physical care quality.

Initiative by The Australian Government

The Australian health care system is a complicated mix of funding and accountability from the state and federal government which makes it difficult for patients to manage. Not with standing its challenges, the health care system in Australia has implemented policies to improve the citizens' welfare by making mental health policy. Many Australians will be directly or indirectly impacted by the impacts of mental health disorders at some point in their lives. Mental health problems are common, with 3 percent of people suffering from severe or chronic depression at some stage in their life and up to 45 percent of people have mental disorders. In Australia, 4.3 million people received mental health-related prescriptions in the year 2018-2019 (AIHW, 2020). This wellness policy promotes mental illness minimization approaches, facilitates recovery, and reduces the myths that are so frequently associated with mental disease. The program implements a country-wide mental health plan, first agreed in July 2006 by the Australian Council of Governments, within the National Strategy on Mental Health. Changes to the future in the strategy need to keep up the momentum and improve on previous achievements, but it is also important to understand that emerging issues require creativity and new ways of solving problems together during processes and industries to produce better results. Health ministers welcome the challenge of leadership in mental health policy, hence the need for greater government-wide coordination and dedication to understanding and making progress (McDaid, Park & Wahlbeck, 2019). Recently, the government has stepped up its efforts to strengthen mental health, investing significantly in support services for clinical and public health, and even set up additional ministerial portfolio positions for mental health, reflecting a stronger commitment to mental illness as a priority area of public health. The legislation is a further step toward creating a healthy mental health environment. This is also the events and outcomes that will eventually make all the difference from this plan to carry out.

Awareness for Mental Health Being

In 2016 Australia's suicide rate was 5.7 suicides per 100,000 people (W.H.O stats 11.7), down from 6.6 per 100,000 in 2007. In 2016, 866 people died in Australia as a result of suicide. The Australian Health Department reported the age-standardized suicide rate fell from 14.7 per 100,000 in 1997 to 10.3 in 2005 (ABS, 2016). Numerous organizations, including the World Health Organization, suggest that communication programs be aimed at the general population to raise awareness of suicidal crises and, more generally, to raise awareness of mental health issues, which is a significant risk factor for suicidal behavior. Lack of available awareness and stigmatization of people with depression are significant obstacles to their treatment and their social and professional integration. Given the growing use of campaigns to raise public awareness and distribute information, it is important to determine the efficacy of these initiatives in changing beliefs and attitudes in the population.

Promoting mental well-being should touch the overall community and should increase the standard of mental health and well-being among the population. The individuals with mental illness, their carers and their families should be directly able to get the benefits of the strategy. These interventions in the health care sector are primarily the organizations responsibility and then of professionals in the sector of mental health, or another health system of the fields (Frost et al., 2017). Many recovery mechanisms can be accessed by daily contact with community-based mental health helplines and team, while other important support elements can be given by a residential or work plan. The recovery model is patient-centered and works towards the holistic approach to mental health care. Over the past decade, the model has fast gained popularity and has become the general framework in mental health care. It is made up of two easy grounds: that healing from a state of mental disorder is achievable, and that the most efficient rehabilitation is patient-driven (Ellison et al., 2018).

Conclusion on Mental Health Services in Australia

The stigma of the mentally ill has a long history and the word 'stigmatization' itself indicated a sign for slaves or prisoners in ancient Greece. Mental illness-related stigma, especially occurring within the health care system and with health care providers, has been identified as a major barrier to accessing treatment and recovery, as well as results in low-quality medical care for mentally disordered individuals. The government has made efforts to improve mental health, spending extensively in psychiatric and public health support programs, and also creating new mental health ministerial portfolio roles. The growing use of campaigns to raise public awareness and disseminate information is being used in this direction, it is important to determine the efficacy of these initiatives in changing attitudes and behaviors in the population. Promoting mental well-being should touch the overall community and should increase the standard of mental health and well-being among the population.

References for Mental Health Services in Australia

ABS. (2016). Causes of Death, Australia. Retrieved from https://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.nsf/Lookup/by+Subject/3303.0~2016~Main+Features~Intentional+self-harm:+key+characteristics~7

AIHW. (2020). Mental health services in Australia. Retrieved from https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/mental-health-services/mental-health-services-in-australia/report-contents/mental-health-related-prescriptions

Dobransky, K. M. (2020). Reassessing mental illness stigma in mental health care: Competing stigmas and risk containment. Social Science & Medicine249, 112861.

Ellison, M. L., Belanger, L. K., Niles, B. L., Evans, L. C., & Bauer, M. S. (2018). Explication and definition of mental health recovery: A systematic review. Administration and Policy in Mental Health and Mental Health Services Research45(1), 91-102.

Frost, B. G., Tirupati, S., Johnston, S., Turrell, M., Lewin, T. J., Sly, K. A., & Conrad, A. M. (2017). An Integrated Recovery-oriented Model (IRM) for mental health services: Evolution and challenges. BMC Psychiatry, 7(1), 22.

Horwitz, A. V. (2020). Creating mental illness. Rutgers University, University of Chicago Press.

Huggett, C., Birtel, M. D., Awenat, Y. F., Fleming, P., Wilkes, S., Williams, S., & Haddock, G. (2018). A qualitative study: experiences of stigma by people with mental health problems. Psychology and Psychotherapy: Theory, Research, and Practice91(3), 380-397.

Karp, D. A. (2017). Speaking of sadness: Depression, disconnection, and the meanings of illness. Boston College. Oxford University Press.

Knaak, S., Mantler, E., & Szeto, A. (2017). Mental illness-related stigma in healthcare: Barriers to access and care and evidence-based solutions. Healthcare Management Forum30(2), 111–116. https://doi.org/10.1177/0840470416679413

McDaid, D., Park, A. L., & Wahlbeck, K. (2019). The economic case for the prevention of mental illness. Annual Review of Public Health, 0, 373-389.

Rössler W. (2016). The stigma of mental disorders: A millennia-long history of social exclusion and prejudices. EMBO Reports, 17(9), 1250–1253. https://doi.org/10.15252/embr.201643041

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