Overcoming the Stigma of Mental Illness

Overcoming the Stigma of Mental Illness

According to a report published in the Psychological Science in the Public Interest, despite the availability of effective evidence-based treatment, about 40 percent of individuals with serious mental illness do not receive care, and many who begin an intervention do not complete it (Corrigan et al., 2015).

“The prejudice and discrimination of mental illness is as disabling as the illness itself. It undermines people attaining their personal goals and dissuades them from pursuing effective treatments,” explains Patrick W. Corrigan of the Illinois Institute of Technology (Corrigan, 2015).

Stigma, notes Corrigan, is seen not just in the attitudes we hold toward those with mental illness, but also in the policies that affect them – from poor funding for research and services compared to other illnesses to “widespread, inaccurate, and sensational media depictions that link mental illness with violence” (Corrigan, 2015).

Public stigma, as witnessed in the pervasive stereotypes we hold toward those with mental illness, causes them to drop out of treatment early or avoid it entirely for fear of being categorized as violent, unpredictable, or dangerous.

Stigma also influences the structures designed to offer care to the mentally ill. The fact that mental health is not covered by insurance to the same extent as medical care, and the fact that mental illness research is not funded at the same levels as medial research are just two examples, notes Corrigan (Corrigan, 2015).

What Corrigan’s report advocates for is that we approach mental illness differently. By addressing stigma through showing another face of mental illness – the personal stories of recovery, hope, and humanity of those with mental illness – we take a step toward overcoming the most insidious – and often overlooked – barrier to care.

In time, Corrigan hopes, stigma will also be addressed on a larger level – through enhanced support systems, public policy, and actual systems of care – and will no longer be a reason that those who need mental health care will avoid it.

Related Online Continuing Education (CE) Course:

stigma of mental illnessOvercoming the Stigma of Mental Illness is a 2-hour online continuing education (CE/CEU) course that explores the stigmas around mental illness and provides effective strategies to overcome them.

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) defines mental illness stigma as “a range of negative attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors about mental and substance use disorders.” Mental health and substance use disorders are prevalent and among the most highly stigmatized health conditions in the United States, and they remain barriers to full participation in society in areas as basic as education, housing, and employment.

This course will explore the stigmas surrounding mental illness and provide effective strategies clinicians can use to create a therapeutic environment where clients can evaluate their attitudes, beliefs, and fears about mental illness, and ultimately find ways to overcome them. We will explore the ways in which mental illness stigmas shape our beliefs, decisions, and lives. We will then look at specific stigmas about mental illness, from the fear of being seen as crazy to the fear of losing cognitive function and the ways in which we seek to avoid these fears. We will then look at targeted strategies that, you, the clinician, can use to create a therapeutic alliance where change and healing can overcome the client’s fears. Lastly, we will look at the specific exercises you can use in session with your clients to help them address and overcome their biases and stigmas about mental illness. Course #21-24 | 2018 | 35 pages | 15 posttest questions

Course Directions

Our online courses provide instant access to the course materials and CE test. Successful completion of the online CE test (80% required to pass, 3 chances to take) and course evaluation are required to earn a certificate of completion. Click here to learn more. Have a question? Contact us. We’re here to help!

Professional Development Resources is a nonprofit educational corporation 501(c)(3) organized in 1992. We are approved to sponsor continuing education by the American Psychological Association (APA); the National Board of Certified Counselors (NBCC); the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB); the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA); the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA); the Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR); the Alabama State Board of Occupational Therapy; the Florida Boards of Social Work, Mental Health Counseling and Marriage and Family Therapy, Psychology & School Psychology, Dietetics & Nutrition, Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology, and Occupational Therapy Practice; the Ohio Counselor, Social Worker & MFT Board and Board of Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology; the South Carolina Board of Professional Counselors & MFTs; the Texas Board of Examiners of Marriage & Family Therapists and State Board of Social Worker Examiners; and are CE Broker compliant (all courses are reported within a few days of completion).

Target Audience: PsychologistsCounselorsSocial WorkersMarriage & Family Therapist (MFTs)Speech-Language Pathologists (SLPs)Occupational Therapists (OTs)Registered Dietitian Nutritionists (RDNs)School Psychologists, and Teachers

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