Recent Study Shows Decrease in Stigma Associated with DepressionLexie Walden
In recent years, open conversations about mental health have become the norm. Celebrities, athletes, and other public figures have begun to share their experiences and diagnoses. This has paved the way for regular people to talk about anxiety, depression, and other conditions. In the past, freely discussing such topics would be unthinkable. What has changed? A recent study has found that the stigma associated with mental illnesses, specifically depression, may be decreasing.
How Does Society View Mental Illness?
The study, published in Jama Network Open, consisted of interviews with over 4,000 U.S. adults in 1996, 2006, and 2018. Researchers asked participants to react to one of three vignettes related to a diagnosed mental health disorder. Perceptions were measured and compared to opinions from prior years. The most notable change observed throughout these interviews was a significant decrease in the stigma associated with depression. The researchers suggest that the public perception of depression has improved over time due to generational factors and an increase in information.
Reducing the Stigma of Mental Illness
In this same study, researchers interviewed participants about other conditions. Notably, they collected data about schizophrenia and alcohol dependence. While there was a marked improvement in stigma related to depression, the other two categories showed a regression in views. This indicates that there is still a long way to go in our understanding of mental illnesses. The negative effects of stigma on those with a diagnosed disorder can be detrimental. Not only can these views impact relationships and employment opportunities – they can also worsen current symptoms.
This research is encouraging for the future of mental health awareness; it demonstrates a possible change in public perception. However, the work of mental health professionals and the general population is far from finished. According to the National Institutes of Health, depression is one of the most common mental health disorders in the United States. This likely contributes to the general acceptance of the disease within the study. To help reduce negative views associated with more uncommon conditions, we must continue to work to bring awareness.
Promoting Mental Wellness
There is often misinformation associated with these disorders, resulting in skewed perceptions. To promote awareness and encourage mental wellness in our society, here are some practical steps we can take:
- Provide Accurate Information
When discussing any mental illness, it’s important to know the facts. Research and statistics can help guide conversations and ensure you aren’t contributing to negative perceptions. The NIH and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provide evidence-based information you can use to increase your own understanding before having a conversation.
- Ask Questions
Research is a great starting point, but you will likely still have questions about a given diagnosis. If you know someone who has a specific condition, you may be able to ask them questions about their experience. If they aren’t comfortable discussing it with you, mental health professionals are a great resource to further your understanding.
- Be Empathetic and Understanding
As a whole, this is one of the most powerful tools we have in reducing the stigma associated with mental illnesses. Whether someone you love is displaying symptoms or needs to take some time to work on their mental health, try to put yourself in their shoes. Helping friends, co-workers, and family members to practice self-care is a major way to alleviate both the stigma and symptoms of mental illness. This level of understanding promotes understanding and reduces alienation.
Counseling and Support at R&A Therapeutic Partners
Whether you are struggling to cope with a family member’s mental health diagnosis or are managing one yourself, R&A Therapeutic Partners can help. For families, we offer therapeutic consulting in Miami, Florida. This program is designed to help parents, children, and spouses to better support their loved one. In the process, they develop an in-depth understanding of their family member’s diagnosis.
We also help connect you to resources, both in our practice and in the community, based on your teen’s needs. If you are navigating a recent diagnosis of a mental illness, contact our team today.
At R&A Therapeutic Partners Raymond Estefania and Ana Moreno specialize in substance use and mental health disorder evaluations, treatment, intervention and therapeutic/educational consulting for clients throughout the greater South Florida area, as well as nationally and internationally. For more resources and information please visit Therapeutic-Partners.com or on Facebook.