Mental health issues are as frequent and dangerous as physical well-being challenges. That’s why mental health issues also require treatment, management, and attention, similar to physical challenges. But lack of awareness surrounding psychological health and illnesses is a significant hindrance.
One of the most common problems is that people do not even understand or recognize mental health issues. They can empathize with physically ill patients and comprehend their apprehension more openly. But mental health illness patients do not receive a similar acknowledgment.
Such patients experience stigmatization for their challenges rather than acceptance.
Hence, awareness of mental health issues is necessary to eliminate misunderstandings and blame games. And no one can do it better than people with experience and knowledge, such as healthcare workers, mental health patients, survivors, and attendants.
Your voice matters and your endeavor can change perceptions across populations and generations. Therefore, take the initiative, come forward, and raise awareness around mental health issues.
The following sections discuss strategies to confront mental illness stigmas so that psychologically-ill patients do not have to suffer helplessly.
1. Ensure Impartial Treatment Regardless Of Health Issues
Availability of mental healthcare facilities and the acceptance of mental health issues are fundamental steps to seeking needed assistance. But mentally-ill patients do not receive quality care for their psychological challenges compared to their physical illnesses.
And it starts from their first judgmental encounter with the healthcare professionals. Implicit bias from healthcare workers causes the same damage to the psyche and emotions as negligence and stigmatization from the general population.
That’s why healthcare education focuses on training workers with multidisciplinary knowledge to help them understand sociocultural complexities while catering to mental health challenges. For instance, WP’s RN to BSN program blends know-how from natural sciences, behavioral sciences, and humanities to educate nursing professionals.
Such programs allow them to unearth culturally and socially sensitive misconceptions surrounding healthcare issues. And they learn strategies to better connect with patients and deliver impartial care regardless of underlying health issues.
2. Acknowledge Mental Health Issues And Raise Awareness
The general population has thorough know-how of physical illness and how they represent. That’s why patients receive more space and acceptance. But people do not know much about psychological issues or their representations.
Since signs and symptoms of mental illnesses have common similarities with everyday life behaviors, it is hard to categorize and comprehend them.
For instance, people do not know if fear, irritability, anxiousness, sadness, and guilt are also signs of potent illnesses. They associate circumstances with behaviors and mood fluctuations. And they believe better conditions can alter and improve anyone’s mood and behavior. But that is not the case.
So, awareness is necessary to change people’s perceptions and help them differentiate what is healthy and abnormal. And no one can better promote healthcare assistance for psychological issues than the healthcare workers. They have more knowledge and understanding regarding well-being issues than the general population. Hence, they can use their awareness and voice power to educate people about the complexities of mental illnesses.
3. Untangle Misconceptions About Mental Issues
Unraveling misconceptions is one way to discourage people from stigmatizing mental illnesses or mentally ill patients. For instance, if someone complains of a mental health issue, it does not mean they are crazy or a lunatic. Mental health issues also have symptomatic complications. And the patient cannot regulate signs or symptoms except for medical assistance, therapy, or medication.
Patients with mental illnesses also experience discrimination in their socio-professional circles. They receive subjective attitudes toward their healthcare challenges, regardless of other risk factors. People believe the viewpoints of patients with mental illness do not bear credibility anymore and consider them mentally unstable or insane.
But no one prefers falling ill, whether it is a physical or psychological illness. And suffering from a particular mental health issue does not mean they cannot comprehend rationally. Irrational thinking, erratic behavior, or mood swings are some of the symptoms of their illnesses. These symptoms do not define a permanent state of their minds.
4. Medical Assistance And Encouragement
Medical assistance for mental health issues is as crucial as for physical illnesses. Besides, mental health issues cannot heal automatically no matter how much one tolerates, ignores, or hides their symptoms. Delayed access to healthcare experts can only complicate the illness and symptoms. If individuals avoid receiving assistance, mental health issues progress to advanced stages similar to physical ones. And chronic health issues can take longer to repair.
Sometimes, a specific chronic condition also transforms into multiple complexities due to delayed medical assistance. For instance, chronic and untreated depression can lead to impaired thought-processing and hallucination, and these are also the symptoms of psychosis. Thus, encourage people to attend to their complications and seek assistance. And also, observe people around you, including your coworkers, family members, and friends.
Encourage them for medical guidance if you sense they suffer from mental health challenges.
5. Do Not Associate Mental Illnesses With Patients
Healthcare issues do not choose patients with specific characteristics or backgrounds. Anyone can acquire any health issue (physical or mental), regardless of precaution and strength. But people have a subjective attitude toward patients with mental health issues than other illnesses.
It is common for them to call patients by their diseases, such as lunatics, psycho, mentally disturbed, and weird. But you do not know how these labels affect someone’s psychological and emotional state.
Being mentally ill does not mean mentally-ill patients cannot differentiate between meanness and kindness. They already blame themselves for their condition, and your prejudicial behaviors and labeling only worsen their conditions.
So, think before speaking as your words carry power, both destructive and constructive. And self-labeling or associating mental illnesses with subjects does not help anyone. If you can say a diabetic patient or hypertensive patient, why not patient battling schizophrenia rather than calling them mental?
6. Treat Mental Health Patients With Compassion
Compassion plays a therapeutic role for patients suffering from any healthcare issues. And it is also a part of healthcare workers’ education and training as a convincing trait to cater to mental health patients. If you receive a mentally-ill patient, do not corner them in a specific category. As a healthcare provider, you have to treat every patient with dignity and respect.
Hence, do not criticize them for their condition or delay access to medical assistance.
Patients anticipate comfort and hope from a healer and helper rather than criticism. Showing compassion and a humane attitude does not cost much, but your kind behavior can minimize their suffering. And the power of these intangible skills goes beyond an impulsive temporary interaction with a mentally-ill patient.
Your unbiased attitude as a care provider makes them feel understood and acknowledged as human beings rather than lunatics.
HP Thoughts: The suddenness of the COVID-19 attack crippled the world but the most affected were the health workers, especially their psychological makeup. What were the challenges they faced? Read our post to find out — Psychological Impact of a Pandemic.
Healthcare assistance should not be at the disposal of physically-ill patients alone. Patients with psychological issues also need help before their condition advances or when they cannot think beyond harming themselves. And no one deserves prejudicial torment, regardless of their well-being challenges. Hence, contribute to mental health awareness and facilitate vulnerable individuals before it is too late.