To say that people who suffer from mental disorders have multiple problems would mean to say nothing. The diseases of that kind can affect cognition, behavioral control, and the emotional sphere, sometimes completely eliminating an adequate social integration of a patient. However, this is not the main problem associated with mental disability. The possible cognitive impairments are more or less predictable at this time, and the patient’s state is checkable. Meanwhile, the two most considerable factors that aggravate the situation are the stigma that remains on mental disorders and the lack of appropriate diagnostics at the onset.
Although science has become able to explain the etiologies of various mental disorders, the majority of cultures and societies continue to stigmatize them. Even in developed countries, reducing the stigma began no later than at the extreme end of the 20th century as a result of the appropriate educational programs (Knaak, Mantler, & Szeto, 2017). Nevertheless, both patients themselves and their families frequently associate mental illness with shame and fear.
The stigmatization of mental disorders leads to a disproportion between them and other types of illness, which is apparent in the healthcare industry. Thus, according to Knaak, Mantler, & Szeto, people with mental diseases frequently “report feeling devalued, dismissed, and dehumanized by […] health professionals” (2017, p. 111). The most possible reasons for stigmatization are the lack of knowledge and skills as well as pessimism about the likelihood of recovery (Knaak, Mantler, & Szeto, 2017). The prejudiced attitude of medical personnel may prevent those who suffer from mental disorders from receiving appropriate aid. Meanwhile, further research would help to continue reducing the stigma, so that the patients have a better quality of life.
Stigmatization is among the reasons why mental illness may not be noticed at early stages, although it is not the only factor. Sheehan emphasizes that it is sometimes difficult to identify a mental health issue in a child or a teenager due to the age-specific peculiarities of the psyche (2017). Those peculiarities include noticeable cognitive as well as behavioral changes that can hypothetically be taken for the symptoms of mental illness. Contrariwise, the social and personal difficulties that may accompany a disorder “are frequently associated with challenges across family, education and learning, school attendance, physical health, and offending behavior” (Sheehan, 2017, p. 97). Therefore, an early onset of a mental disorder is likely to remain unseen, meanwhile, untimely diagnostics can substantially complicate the treatment.
Both the stigma and shyness, which is rather typical of adolescents, discourage people with suspected mental illness from seeking medical aid. This results in a faster progression of the disease and, consequently, a much lower chance for a successful rehabilitation in the future (Knaak, Mantler, & Szeto, 2017). Besides, such behavior supports and strengthens the stereotype that mental illness is a shame that should not be discussed in public.
To summarize, the cognitive, emotional, and behavioral challenges people with mental disabilities face are apparently not their biggest problem. A more dangerous aspect is the stigmatization of mental illness, which eliminates an appropriate attitude to such patients and frequently prevents them from receiving adequate care. Another problem is the impossibility of accurate diagnostics in adolescents, as their normal behavior may resemble the symptoms of certain mental diseases. The two factors combined are a serious obstacle to a timely identification of a disease and, consequently, a successful treatment.
Knaak, S., Mantler, E., & Szeto, A. (2017). Mental illness-related stigma in healthcare: Barriers to access and care and evidence-based solutions. Healthcare Management Forum, 30(2), 111-116. Web.
Sheehan, R. (2017). Mental illness in children: Childhood illness and supporting the family. Brain Sciences, 7(8), 97-100. Web.