Let's end stigma of mental illness

Posted on May 1, 2014

SINGAPORE - With the recent highlight of mental illness in our society, we need to start asking if we are doing enough to understand and treat mental illness in Singapore. Perhaps the first step would be to address the stigma against mental illness.

With one in six people in Singapore suffering from some form of mental illness, it is quite likely that patients include our friends, colleagues or family members.

Numerous international studies have suggested that stigmatising attitudes towards people with mental health problems are widespread and commonly held. As recognised by the World Health Organization, the image of mental illness is incorrectly associated with images of violence and laziness rather than with suffering, marginalisation and denial of basic rights.

Stigma includes both prejudicial attitudes and discriminating behaviour towards individuals with mental illness. A local study on help-seeking behaviour among those with mental illness indicated that only about half of those with a severe mental disorder had sought help in the past 12 months. The reason in part is the stigma attached. Critically, besides the treatment gap caused by stigma, we often see patients suffer self-stigma.

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Source material from Today