Draft of Essay:Most people walk around dehydrated.
75% of Americans are in what medical terms define as a state of chronic dehydration according to CBS News(CBS News). Symptoms of dehydration even at low levels include increased thirst, dry mouth, feeling tired or sleepy, headache, dry skin, dizziness and more(WebMD). These are not unlike the many symptoms of certain mental illnesses which have the capacity to tremendously disrupt a person’s regular life, so in a way, many of us already know what it is like to feel mentally ill, whether it be with dehydration, or just plain sadness. However, when these problems persist and escalate, it’s time to stop, get some help. Mental health treatment in America has been fraught with the benefits and woes of capitalism and America’s ever changing economic status; conspiracy theorists would say that mental health treatment is a hoax, and is defined by reckless doctors trying to make money off of their patients suffering by prescribing pills that don’t work. Those who benefit from medication would say otherwise, and what of those who choose to self-medicate with marijuana, a schedule 1 drug, and other natural substances like kratom rather than the pharmaceuticals provided by pharmacies and doctors? The perceptions and attitudes of people towards mental health treatment in America define those who have a mental disorder, but not fully.
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This paper investigates how societies perception of drugs, mental facilities, psychotherapy, and mental treatment as a whole affect the mentally ill. Mental health treatment starts with how society treats the mentally ill, and mental health treatment could be greatly improved if the stigma behind it was erased.The erosion of three main types of stigma would benefit the mentally ill population by allowing them to get help and rights. Outlined by the Committee on the Science of Changing Behavioral and Health Norms these stigmatizations are as follows: “Structural or institutionalized stigma,” which is defined as “prejudice and discrimination by policies, laws, and constitutional practice(CSCBHN 5). This causes “discrimination in housing, opportunities, legal restrictions for jury duty, political office, parental custody rights, marriage, reduced privacy rights, disparities in treatment,”(CSCBHN 6). Public stigma exists at the community level and causes “stereotypes, prejudice, and discrimination endorsed by the general population. These “negative stereotypes, attitudes, beliefs and behaviors about mental illness, persons with mental illness, their families, and their providers cause isolation and rejection of these groups, and lack of public support for services”(CSCBHN 6).
Self stigma, perhaps the most damaging of all, causes shame, low self?esteem/efficacy, the “Why?try” cycle, and lack of engagement in treatment” in people with behavioral disorders”(CSCBHN 6). There is no shortage in subversive stereotypes of the mentally ill and their even more subversive effects, but with proper education, treatment, and empowerment, those with a mental illness can be confident in the way they are treated.The mentally ill are sometimes portrayed as crazy, evil, and even violent, which causes discrimination and makes it harder for the them to get better. The homeless man that can be heard in the streets of Old Irving Park may scare people with his loud, sudden, and most likely involuntary screams, but that doesn’t mean he is violent or dangerous.
Even though most public focus lies on the danger and violence of those with mental disorders, many studies show that they are at higher risk of victimization than they are of committing a crime (Choe et al., 2008; Desmarais et al., 2014; Khalifeh et al., 2015; Wolff et al., 2007) and of receiving less than fair treatment by law enforcement if they report crimes than people without mental illness (Pettitt et al., 2013).
The mentally ill are more likely to feel the effects of discrimination when looking for a job and buying a house, and have a higher likelihood of homelessness (Corbière et al., 2011; Corrigan and Shapiro, 2010; Corrigan et al., 2006b). People with mental illness are more likely than others to be counseled to accept a job for which they are overqualified (Wahl, 1999), and they often face increased scrutiny by social workers, educators, physicians, family court administrators, and child protective services personnel (Dolman et al., 2013; Jeffery et al., 2013). This discrimination based on stereotypes of the mentally ill should not be tolerated, and negatively affects the treatment of people with mental disorders.
Government whistleblowers in the field of psychotherapy and researchers of mental illness and treatment have openly criticized the guidelines for diagnosing and treating the mentally ill in America, which promote an improper perspective of mental health that has a negative impact on mental health treatment and society as a whole. Allen Frances, a renowned professor at the American College of Physicians criticizes the DSM-III, DSM-IV, and DSM-5, which are the widely accepted guidelines used by almost all physicians to diagnose mental health disorders. Frances discredits these guidelines for being biased due to conflict of interest, for being based on unreliable research, and for causing the phenomenon of overdiagnosis which she believes to be the cause of the increase in mental disorders since the guidelines were first published(source). There are likely a number of factors causing the increase in the number of mentally ill in our society. Conspiracy theorists would say that the reason for this overdiagnosis is due to the increasing financial status of the medical field, especially in mental health treatment, which is expanding rapidly so as to garner more money. When someone is diagnosed, they are told to take expensive medicines prescribed by doctors who must sell those medicines if they want to make more money than what they make from just one visit.
The DSM guidelines make diagnosis much more likely, so it is easier for the doctors to diagnose a patient positive for mental health issues. Whether that was intended or not, the field of mental health makes a lot more money now than it ever did before, in part due to the alarming rate at which people are given mental health treatment, as well as how expensive it is. But maybe the guidelines are right, and the 20% increase in mentally ill since 1980 is due to underdiagnosis before the guidelines(Wher u getit fram). That could also be true and likely is, but it does not mean that medication is the right choice for millions of mildly mentally ill Americans who would not benefit from being given pills that will have largely unknown effects on their brains, in addition to being told they are mentally ill with all the stigma that comes with and having a problem that they may or may not be able to solve. People who have not experienced mental illness may believe it is un-American to say the least, and that people should deal with their problems by taking action and changing their own life however difficult it may be.
But where may we draw the line between people with serious generalized anxiety disorder and people who worry a bit too much? This is what the guidelines are for, and right now, they are skewed, and must be reworked so that there can be trust and truth in diagnosis of mental illness.Although there are many ways to rid American society of the stigmatization of the mentally ill, it remains evident that time will heal all wounds, and that as perspectives mature, it will get better.