Monday, March 19, 2012

El Que Dirán

Perceived stigma about receiving mental health services SUCKS.

Perceived stigma is the belief that most people will devalue and discriminate against individuals who use mental health services and/or have a mental illness.

In a study about the effect of perceived stigma and dropping out of treatment for depression, the authors found that although younger patients reported perceiving more stigma than older patients, stigma predicted treatment discontinuation only among the older patients.

The study concluded that patients’ perceptions of stigma at the start of treatment influence their subsequent treatment behavior.  Stigma is an appropriate target for intervention aimed at improving treatment adherence and outcomes.

Sirey, J.A. et al, (2001). Perceived Stigma as a Predictor of Treatment Discontinuation in Young and Older Outpatients With Depression, Am J Psychiatry 2001, 158, 479–481.

Talking about fears of discrimination at the beginning of therapy may go a long way to keeping people in treatment.  It's sucks that other people's bull$&!* can serve to hold us back from participating in treatment that benefits us.  Being depressed is neurotoxic (bad for our brain) and bad for your heart (depression is a predictor of heart disease).  Caring for your mind-body or caring about other people's perceptions of what is normal - it's sad that people feel faced with such an ultimatum.  Healing, in all its forms, could be fashionable and the new black.  Becoming integrated, whole and balanced is sexy.

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