Stigma and mental health: not just a US issue.

A PHS 795 student writes about a recent piece on NPR:

This article touches on a health issue that we mentioned in an earlier lecture by Dr. Elizabeth Jacobs on health care disparities and cultural competency. In it, the article discusses how cultural awareness of what mental health is often ignored. In particular, it draws on an anecdotal story from an individual from Nepal and how they were not aware what depression was, let alone how to seek help for many years. Additionally, “in Nigeria,… only a third of those with depression knew they had a problem and that something could be done about it”. I found this very interesting because even talking to older adults in the U.S., it seems like there is still a large stigma about mental health and a gross misunderstanding as the causes and effects, particularly of depression. The individual in the article, Jagannath Lamichhane, even states “‘People believe that depression is the result of personal weaknesses…'”, and from my knowledge, this seems to be a misunderstanding across different parts of the world and different cultures. This relates back to the lecture on cultural competency and the burden that medical professionals, researchers, and policy-makers all have to continue raising awareness on mental health, the biopsychological factors related to mental health, and of course, services available. I’m not certain as to how much training people in these three spheres receive, but it certainly seems to be a global public frame of mind and cultural attitude that needs to be further developed and conversations that need to be had.


One thought on “Stigma and mental health: not just a US issue.

  1. This is a painful situation.

    In fact, it is also the case in my country (South Korea), too. Perceiving mental illness as a sign of weakness as mentioned in the article is rather common as well. Korea has the highest suicide rates among the OECD countries and the number of patients with mild-moderate mental illness has been increasing for several years. (This certainly may be due to more diagnosis which is good in a way since patients are seeking for help.)

    And yet, there is a bigger problem. It is not merely a matter of stigma on mental illness but is about being rejected in private insurance policies. For those who had mild-moderate mental illness (e.g. depression, panic disorder, insomnia, etc.) are experiencing discriminatory treatment such as denial!!!!!! Due to limited coverage, most of their treatment is relying on out-of-pocket money.
    The law is now amended, restricting companies to reject these patients but problems still remain in terms of indefinite terminologies in the language. Long way to go..!


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