The Need to Change Social Stigmas

change social stigmasThe need to change social stigmas around addiction and mental disorder is dire. One in three people lives with either of these conditions, and the avoidance of the matter in our culture is making the situation worse, not better. Addiction and mental disorder make it nearly impossible for a person to feel secure in anything they experience. Their feelings of instability make functioning like everyone else incredibly difficult, but they still try to very regularly. A majority of people who are struggling with a mental disorder or an addiction are not receiving treatment for it, either because they do not know what is available to them or because they do not want to appear weak. This attempt to get by in the world without the mental health that is necessary to cope with it makes a person very susceptible to setbacks and hardships. The last thing this person needs is to be labeled as useless, damaged, dysfunctional or a throw away person. Being exposed to opinions like this can only make things worse.
If we were to stop and question our judgmental behavior, we would understand just how detrimental stigmatizing a person with addiction or a mental disorder is. It is wrong to place judgment on anyone, but when it is done to a person who is already insecure and unstable, recovering from the judgment is going to be much more difficult. Addicts and people with mental disorders are commonly high functioning and intelligent. Even those who are in denial are aware at some level of how different they are from other people. To be aware of your condition is to doubt your own perception frequently, and ignorant criticisms of a person who does not have the self esteem to deflect such estimations is likely to believe them. Intolerance is alive and well within our culture, and many of us are accustomed to thoughtlessly passing judgment or speaking negatively about someone we do not understand. It is time we take care not to pass judgment on people with addictions and mental disorders. We do a disservice to them and to ourselves by not lending compassion to the situation.