This paper attempts to shed some light on why mentally ill persons are stigmatized. This paper will therefore first offer a brief description of stigma and then it will evaluate the extent of the stigmatization of mental illness and then it will analyze why mental illness attracts such stigmatization.Byrne (2000) describes stigma as “a sign of disgrace or discredit which sets a person apart from others” (65). Stigma is more about the connection between attitudes, perceptions, and stereotypes. In this regard, Brohan, Slade, Clement, and Thornicroft (2010) formulated six dimensions of mental illness. These dimensions are, “concealability”, “course”, “disruptiveness”, “aesthetics”, “origin” and “peril” (Brohan et al 2010).Concealability refers to “how obvious or detectable a characteristic is to others” (Brohan et al 2010). The course refers to the characterizing the longevity or reversibility of the condition. Disruptiveness is used to refer to how the stigma affects “interpersonal relationships” (Brohan et al 2010). Aesthetics distinguishes between reactions that are replete with disgust and those that perceive the condition as “unattractive” (Brohan et al 2010). The dimension of origin refers to what brings about differences in attitudes toward mental illness and peril refers to the level of the differences which could conceivably induce “feelings of threat or danger in others” (Brohan et al 2010). Stigma is therefore social in nature and application.Stigmatization of the mentally ill has negative consequences for employability and social acceptance (Lai, Hong, and Chee 2000, 111). However, the problems of stigmatization are far more pervasive than employability and social acceptance. It pervades everything from treatment to family support.
Stigmatization of Mental Illnesses