Stigmatisation and other obstacle in the therapy of mental disorders

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The main obstacles to undertake treatment of mental disorders is the lack of sound knowledge and information on their symptoms and the perspectives for their effective treatment on one hand, and the dissemination throughout the society of wrong, negative views (stereotypes) on mental diseases, what results in negative attitudes towards the patients (stigmatisation). In addition, there is still an insufficient availability of various units of psychiatric therapy, especially outpatient clinics and other forms of therapy in extrahospital environment.

Remember!

It is particularly difficult in case of mental disorders that the higher is the stage of disorders the less aware is the affected person of their existence.

It impedes the decision to consult a psychologist or a doctor and delays diagnosis and treatment. It decreases the chance for quick management of disease symptoms in its initial stage. Therefore, the patient's family members play a major role here, as they may be the first to notice some annoying statements or behaviours of their family member. It is very important to consider the statements and remarks of close, kind-hearted, loving persons and follow their advice to contact a doctor or a psychologist, even if we do not perceive anything annoying in ourselves or in our behaviour. As it sometimes happens that only after the therapy is completed, the patient becomes aware that he/she has survived an episode of mental disorders.

It is very important to consider the statements and remarks of close, kind-hearted, loving persons and follow their advice to contact a doctor or a psychologist, even if we do not perceive anything annoying in ourselves or in our behaviour. As it sometimes happens that only after the therapy is completed, the patient becomes aware that he/she has survived an episode of mental disorders.

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Stock photo. Posed by model.

It is worth knowing that...

Another problem, which delays medical consultation and therapy, is a common conviction that mental diseases are "worse" than other medical conditions. This is also called stigmatisation, i.e. public condemnation of a person or a group of persons - in this case: suffering of mental disorders or diseases - rejecting such persons in social contacts.

In our society, we still meet unjustified, negative attitude to mentally ill persons. The diseases are perceived as shameful and affected patients are treated as persons of the "worse kind" of people. In general, people avoid contacts with a psychiatrist and psychiatry, as they are afraid that they will become "marked" as mentally ill (madmen, idiots), stigmatised, degraded for the whole life and rejected by the society, including the close family members.

These negative attitudes towards mentally ill people are mainly a result of the lack of knowledge of these diseases and their treatment.

The progress in medicine - especially the discovery and launching - since the half of the previous century - of psychotropic agents with effective antidepressant, antipsychotic, antianxiety and mood stabilising effects - has totally changed the clinical picture, the course and the prognostic perspectives in mental diseases.

Do you know that...

The majority of mental disorders, diagnosed early enough, when their symptoms are not yet enhanced, may effectively treated outside of hospital.

While in cases of acute, serious, enhanced mental disorders, which require hospital treatment, a visible improvement is achieved already after approx. 2 weeks and discharge from hospital is usually possible after 4-8 weeks.

The lack of knowledge about therapeutic possibilities in case of mental diseases, the conviction, popular in the society, that they are not curable plus the wrong, negative stereotypes of mentally ill persons are the factors which seriously impede access of the patients to therapy, as well as their return to normal life in society when the therapy is completed.

Remember!

The fears of mental disease are in many cases responsible for a delayed onset of therapy, applied when the diseases is already developed and more difficult to be treated then in its initial stages.

A serious mistake of persons from the patient's circle, making difficult the decision to start therapy, is their approach to strange, sometimes cumbersome or odd behaviours of the patient as indications of his/her ill will, evil nature or malice. The symptoms of mental disorders are not the patient's guilt but suffering.

Remember!

Such a patient should not be blamed, reproved, punished, lectured, threatened or humiliated.

The patient should be approached with kindness, acceptance, understanding and support.  It is also necessary to uplift the patient's spirit, help regain his/her hope, reduce his/her anxiety, increase the sense of safety and, finally, convince to consult a physician and start treatment.

These hints and suggestions are also appropriate for the patient, especially when, because of emotional disorders, disturbed thinking and perception, may sometimes wrongly and unnecessarily blame himself/herself of what is a symptom of the disease. Such a patient looses hope and surrenders to exaggerated fears and anxiety, while it is important that he/she maintains distance, self-acceptance and hope.

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