Stigma Mental Health Notes

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Discuss the effects of labelling and stigma on people diagnosed as having mental health problems Labelling and stigma in mental health are phenomena with many layers. In this discourse I will try to unravel and present these issues and their consequences for the recipients of these classifications. Scheff (1966) argued that the diagnosis for certain mental illnesses such as schizophrenia is tantamount to putting a label on a person and can therefore determine how other people perceive the person with that condition. This can lead to avoidance and marginalisation. To him diagnosis... “...activates stereotypes of mental illness learned in childhood (from friends, family and the media) and we respond accordingly, whether patient, family member or professional. The label affects how we respond to and treat the patient and how the patients themselves feel and act.” Gray (2002) Gray is acknowledging here, the effect of how a person is perceived by others when labelled, and crucially how they see themselves. How people see themselves is ‘felt stigma’. To Thornicroft(2004) this includes the experience of shame of having a condition. It could be argued that labelling and the consequent stigma that evolves from it is a pre-cursor to the self-fulfilling prophecy, in that people may concur with the stereotype. In a review of the literature and first-hand accounts relating to self-stigma, Green (2009) concludes that they attest to the pervasiveness of self stigma and its impact which is “associated with social withdrawal, self-devaluation, impediments to employment and social relationships and an overall sense of dehumanization leading people with stigmatizing conditions such as mental illness to ‘thinking of myself as garbage’. Green (2009) p.17 Labelling theory (originally an aspect of criminology) relates to a deviance from social norms; “Rule

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