Most respondents said the negative connotation kept people from seeking help
A new study, conducted in Delhi, has found that nearly 90 per cent of the people living with mental illnesses feel that they are prone to ridicule and discrimination and 63 per cent think that the illness makes it difficult to lead a life of dignity.
The survey was conducted by Cosmos Institute of Mental Health & Behavioural Sciences (CIMBS), examining general attitudes and perceptions about mental health in the Capital. It was released on Monday on the occasion of World Mental Health Day.
Over 500 people tracked
The researchers tracked 529 subjects in the age group of 18 to 62 from across the National Capital Region (NCR).
The researchers found that 58 per cent of the participants knew of someone in their personal or professional life, with a psychiatric or psychological health issue.
Of them, over 70 per cent felt that the person was not taking adequate medical treatment.
Further, 39 per cent knew someone who had hidden their illness from their spouse before marriage, and 53 per cent had prevented disclosure of such information to their employers.
‘Not enough done’
And an overwhelming majority — 94 per cent of the respondents — thought not enough was being done to remove stigma attached to mental illness.
“Mental illness continues to be shrouded in an air of secrecy and guilt. We often come across patients afraid to disclose their illness publicly. While maintaining confidentiality is routine and important for us, we see patients with serious illnesses or even common problems like depression, anxiety and stress, from all backgrounds, eager to keep their illness a secret,” said Dr. Shobhana, consultant psychiatrist at CIMBS.
Stigma surrounding mental illness is a continuing problem that mental health experts and patients have battled for long.
Pranav Mittal, a lawyer who has worked on mental health policy reform and is a coordinator of the study, says, “An astounding 89 per cent of the respondents felt that those with psychiatric illness were more likely to be ridiculed, discriminated against, or looked down upon in society. Of the respondents, 63 per cent said mental illness made it difficult to lead a life of dignity. This explains why 80 per cent thought biases and stigmas were so severe that they prevented people from seeking treatment.”
A striking revelation of the study was the role attributed to popular culture in promoting misconceptions about mental illness. “Over 68 per cent believed that popular culture, especially cinema, wrongly depicted people with any mental illness as being violent, eccentric, unsociable and in need of ‘lock-up’ or ‘shock-therapy’, which contributed to the stigma and even deprived persons with mental illness of their dignity.”
The study also revealed the limited success of national-level awareness campaigns, and underlined the urgent need for renewed efforts to de-stigmatise mental health care in India.
Over 68 per cent believed that popular culture, especially cinema, wrongly depicted people with any mental illness as being violent, eccentric, unsociable and in need of
The study also revealed the
limited success of
national-level awareness campaigns
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