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How might the label of mental illness or disability impact on an individual?

In what ways has this been challenged?

Critically analyse a media report which illustrates an issue related mental

health/illness or disability

Table of Contents

Table of Contents..................................................................................................................................2

Stigma and Attitudes towards Mental Illness.......................................................................................4

What is Stigma?..........................................................................................................................4

The Impact of the label of Mental Health Illness on an Individual............................................6

Media Report: Mental Illness in the Australian Workforce................................................................10

Mental Illness

Andrade (2013) reports that there is an annual prevalence rate of 30% for mental illnesses in the

general population of the United States. Of that 30%, about two-thirds of people with these

illnesses are not getting any treatment (Andrade et al., 2013; Sharma et al., 2008; Thornicroft,

2008). The situation remains influenced by the existence of a combination of numerous factors.

A combination of factors contributes to this situation. It is argued that mental health has not

attracted needed attention in public health settings and discussions (Thornicroft, Rose, and

Kassam, 2007). This lack of proper attention unarguably influences the general health quality of

the affected individuals (Saxena, Thornicroft, Knapp, and Whiteford, 2007; Schwartz and Meyer,

2010). The situation is much worse for neglected populations, especially women and children

within marginalized socio-cultural and ethno-religious contexts, across different countries

(Schwartz and Meyer, 2010; Spencer and Chesler, 2007).

Several studies have been performed to design a framework for understanding how gender,

racial, religious and other forms of identity within present-day socio-political contexts affects

beliefs and perceptions about mental illness and treatment. Additionally, researchers are seeking

to identify how environments shape and affect the mental health of minorities in the United

States and many other parts of the world (Abu-Ras and Suarez, 2009; Evans-Lacko, Brohan,

Mojtabai, and Thornicroft, 2012; Govender and Penn-Kekana, 2008, 2009; Hatzenbuehler,

McLaughlin, Keyes, and Hasin, 2010; Laird, Amer, Barnett, and Barnes, 2007; Lasalvia and

Tansella, 2008; Zur and Nordmarken, 2013). Furthermore, other scholarly studies are

increasingly exploring the quality of health care received by these minorities (Laird et al., 2007).

The beliefs about or perceptions of stigma, attitude, and cultural related issues are barriers

restricting access to mental health care among communities (APA, n.d.; Evans-Lacko et al.,

2012; Govender and Penn-Kekana, 2008, 2009; Jablensky and Kendell, 2002; Shives, 2008). In

addition, culturally rooted religious beliefs and practices have also been identified as barriers for

the majority of global communities (Levin, Chatters, and Taylor, 2005; Neighbors et al., 2007;

Thornicroft, 2008; Waldron, 2010). What is more, the research literature in this field involves

investigation of many factors that affect help-seeking habits for mental illness among various

populations. Self-stigmatization leading to social withdrawal remains a constantly stated theme

by many authors (Daradkeh, Eapen, and Ghubash, 2005; Eapen and El-Rufaie, 2008; Jaspal and

Cinnirella, 2010; Jaspal and Siraj, 2011; Saxena et al., 2007). Hence, it is important to

thoroughly examine self-stigmatization among specific populations. Decades of research studies

have documented gender health inequalities across different continents and countries; this theme

has in recent times snowballed into improved policy objectives in many developed countries,

especially the U.S. Bleich, Jarlenski, Bell, and LaVeist (2012) described the time drifts in health

inequalities using sex, ethnicity (or race), and socioeconomic status. Time drifts identify efforts

to lessen health inequalities; and level of success or progress made to eradicate inequalities

within health sectors in the U.S., United Kingdom, as well as other Organization for Economic

Cooperation and Development (OECD) countries. According to their results, the U.S. time-trend

data illustrates a reduction in the gap between the top best groups and top worst-off groups in

such indicators of health, as life expectancy, but widening gaps in others, such as diabetes


Stigma and Attitudes towards Mental Illness

What is Stigma?

According to Goffman (2009), the modern day stigma is an illuminating excursion into the

situation of persons who are unable to conform to standards that society calls normal (Goffman,

2009, p. 154). Goffman further explains that stigma is a reflection of a social attitude or

response to mental problems that is totally demeaning and a locus of social humiliation. Stigma

also targets an individuals social identity by means of stereotypes and false imagery derived

from media and other virtual sources. This can be confusing to an individual because the

stigmatizing attacks do not address that individuals personal qualities, skills, and personality.

Goffman (1999) explains how just one isolated attribute of a stigmatized individual can be blown

out of proportion and made into a substitute target based on inaccurate assumptions about the

whole person. Such assumptions run deep and viciously in the American collective psyche.

Stigma also echoes an inconsistency between an individuals virtual social identity; which is

the sum of societal beliefs about a particular individual, and that individuals actual social

identity; which is regarded as any qualities a person could be demonstrated to own or express

(Goffman, 2009, p. 138). Goffman (2009) explains that stigma heightens any attribute; which

can be used to dishonor a particular individual to provoke a set of inaccurate assumptions about

an individuals character and capabilities, often causing various degrees of discrimination.

Stigma can rise from a person having an attribute, deemed less desirable or perhaps bizarre, that

somewhat distinguishes that person from others. For instance, within Asian and African cultures,

people who are crippled are hidden from society or otherwise shunned due to their

distinguishable physical features. Henceforth the individual is reduced in society from a whole

and normal somebody to a stained, discountable one (Goffman, 2009). Stigma inherently

dehumanizes and narrows an individuals social value because he or she is judged as being

marked, blemished, and below average. Thus, he or she is stigmatized. A stigmatized trait

always differs from what a society regards as normal and this ultimately triggers societys

negative response, which may be expressed in the form of interpersonal or combined reactions

that seek to isolate, treat, threaten, correct, or punish any individual engaged in discounted


Scholars and researchers continue to struggle to define the psychological roots of and

motivations for why people are stigmatized. At present a single uniform theory as to the origins

of stigmatization has yet to be developed. However, while there is general agreement as to what

the term stigma means, there is yet a lack of a single, uniform theory that seeks to provide a

concrete definition and understanding of the phenomenon. In other words, there is significant

agreement on the notion that stigma means any kind of mark or behavior that leads to

humiliation or disgrace, and sets an individual or group apart from others. Stigmatization has a

multi-faceted and multi-layered damaging and negative impact on targeted individuals, despite

the lack of a theoretical explanation for the existence and why normal people feel a

psychological need to stigmatize others (Goffman, 2009).

The Impact of the label of Mental Health Illness on an Individual

There are various conceptualizations and rationalizations to why mental health stigma is

inflicted, yet there is little doubt mental illness stigma has substantial corollaries and many

damaging effects, both to the affected person and his or her close friends and family (Boyd, Katz,

Link, and Phelan, 2010; Lindsey et al., 2010; Livingston and Boyd, 2010; Werner, Mittelman,

Goldstein, and Heinik, 2012). A study by Phelan et al. (1998) underscored the impact of mental

health stigma on family members by creating a forum of 156 parents as well as spouses of

patients who were on first-time admission at a psychiatric treatment facility. Their findings

revealed 50 percent of the participants hid the details of their relatives hospitalization from

others. Also, they found the members of the family of a patient with mental illness were more

unlikely to reveal their family members mental health condition if they did not cohabit with the

relative, the relative was female, or the relative had severe undesirable symptoms (Phelan et

al.,1998). Phelan et al.s (1998) findings lend credence to the existence of a certain level of

shame and humiliation that can afflict close members of the family of a stigmatized person.

According to Werner et al. (2012), family members of a person having a stigmatized illness

experience stigma from three dimensions: stigma from caregivers, stigma from the lay public,

and institutionalized stigma.

Corrigan, Kerr, and Knudsen's (2005) report that stigmatization of individuals with mental illness

can deny them the experience of two predominantly imperative opportunities in life. The first

opportunity is getting decent and competitive employment; the second is living an independent

life in a safe, private, and happy home. Their argument is rooted in the problems that are often

unavoidably encountered in work and housing when an individual suffers from certain mental

health conditions. For instance, mental health conditions such as schizophrenia, which

compromise an individuals social and survival skills, make it difficult for him or her to live

independently or meet the demands of the modern competitive job market. The social status of

employers and property owners who believe stereotypes about mental health disorders may

respond in intolerant and discriminatory manners. A study conducted by Kaye (2012) examined

the impacts of a psychiatric disorder and treatment support services in terms of discrimination as

it relates to housing. Kayes (2012) study showed public stigma towards people with psychiatric

illnesses still constitutes a barrier to having access to decent and affordable housing. This is

contrary to evidence that identifies stable and decent housing as a major factor in recovery from

psychiatric problems and the establishment of public programs and policies to provide people

with psychiatric disabilities with the resources and treatment support they need to assist them in

securing and maintaining their choice of housing (Kaye, 2012).

What is more, stigma can distress individuals with mental health conditions who are involved

with the system of criminal justice (Markowitz, 2011). Mental illness criminalization ensues

when an individual with a mental health condition is handled by the police, courts of law, and

jails; as opposed to the appropriate mental health system (Markowitz, 2011; Silverstone,

Krameddine, DeMarco, and Hassel, 2013). This argument comes up because of meager funding

of mental health services and somewhat harsh crime policies (Markowitz, 2011). Researchers

maintain that the publics burgeoning prejudice against criminals has led to creation and

enforcement of strict laws that limit effective planning pertaining to treatment of mentally ill

offenders (Freudenberg, Daniels, Crum, Perkins, and Richie, 2008; Markowitz, 2011; Morabito

et al., 2010; Silverstone et al., 2013). Comparative studies on the arrest rates of the general

American public have revealed that people with mental health illnesses are more vulnerable to

police arrest in comparison to the rest of the population (Freudenberg et al., 2008). In fact,

Steadman, McCarty, and Morrissey (1989) state that this discrimination persists when the

arrested mentally ill individual is jailed. This study revealed that such individuals spend more

time incarcerated than those without a mental health condition. Other researchers warn that

treating people with mentally illness like criminals has serious consequences not only for their

lives, freedom, and welfare, but also for the community will inadvertently lose potential

contributions from these citizens (Andrews and Bonta, 2010).

Persons having mental health disorders may also be negatively impacted by health care systems.

According to studies conducted within the American health system, people who are mentally ill

were found to receive fewer medical services and help than others, and had fewer chances of

getting the same level of insurance benefits as their mentally healthy colleagues (Schoen,

Osborn, How, Doty, and Peugh, 2009). For example, Druss, Bradford, Rosenheck, Radford, and

Krumholz (2000) explored types of medical procedures applied after myocardial infarction

within acute care US nongovernmental hospital facilities. In a total sample of 113,653, the

findings illustrated that individuals with co-morbid psychiatric illnesses have lesser chances of

going through percutaneous trans luminal coronary angioplasty, a cost-effective option in

comparison to bypass surgery.

Stigma may affect (Conner et al., 2010; Corrigan et al., 2005; Corrigan, Rafacz, and Rsch,

2011) individuals who are mentally ill, for the fear of social rejection and may limit the extent of

their social networks; causing a decrease in their income (Conner et al., 2010; Corrigan et al.,

2005; Corrigan, Rafacz, and Rsch, 2011). Findings by Holzinger et al. (2004) developed this

view. They interviewed a sample of 210 in patients with schizophrenia or who had experienced

an episode of depression. One-half of their sample lived in small towns and the other resided in

large metropolitan areas. This study revealed that the majority of these patients anticipated

negative reactions or hostile attitudes from people in their environment, especially in the

workplace or in the social lives. Stigmatization was felt acutely in the sphere of interpersonal

interaction. While patients with schizophrenia and those with depression both expected

stigmatization equally often, the former recounted experiences of concrete stigmatization more

often than the latter. Patients who resided in small towns expected stigmatization more regularly

than their counterparts from the city, even though both had experienced stigmatization at almost

the same rate.

Media Report: Mental Illness in the Australian Workforce

Mental illness has developed into a pivotal aspect experienced in the workforce as it directly

contributes to the existent levels of productivity among employees. Increased levels of employee

mental illness remains attributed to several factors including increased workload coupled with

organizational pressures. The identification of high workloads with limited levels of work-life

balance delimits the operational capacity of the employee (Di, 2015). In addition, the process

influences the development of the employee stress levels, which increases the probability for

mental illness. An increase in mental illness cases in the workforce remains attributed to

decreasing levels of employee job satisfaction. Job satisfaction develops into an instrumental

element of the workforce as it influences the level of employee involvement in work activities.

Job satisfaction remains instrumental in the workplace as it delimits the level of pressure

experienced among employees (Di, 2015). In addition, the process influences the level of

employee involvement in work processes leading to increased operational efficiency. However,

the development of ineffective work processes increases the level of pressure experienced by

employee thus delimiting their operational level. In addition, increased stress in the workplace

affects the employee psychologically, which provides an avenue for the development of mental


The development of effective work-life balance strategies have been underplayed by the majority

of organizations leading to the development of a dissatisfied workforce. Work-life balance

influences the development of strong sense of tranquility experienced by the employees, which

remains attributed to the existent balance. However, lack of the process reduces the operational

capacity experienced leading to increased levels of stress among the workforce (Di, 2015).

Mental illness has developed into a critical element in the workforce as claims developed relating

to mental illness have been on the rise in comparison to work-injury claims experienced in the

workplace. Continuous development of work processes geared towards meeting the stipulated

organizational objectives enhance the process, which develops a fatigued workforce thus

increasing the medical overheads experienced. In addition, increased levels of job strain develop

a situation that integrates high level of demands on the job while providing employees with

limited control pertaining to the processes geared towards meeting the stipulated objectives.

However, organizations may reduce the probability of the level of mental illness experienced in

the organization through the development of viable operational processes. In addition, the

organization may develop platforms geared towards providing the necessary care for employees

suffering from mental illness as opposed to the development of stigma. The process will enhance

the levels of mental health among employees while increasing the organizations operational



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