Mental Illness is not a Character Defect
There are many reasons why people develop mental illness. Some are genetic or biological. Some are a result of childhood trauma or overwhelming stress at school, work or home. Some stem from environmental injustice or violence. Sometimes, we simply don't know. Regardless of the reasons, these are health problems just like cancer, arthritis or diabetes. So why does society look at people with mental illness, including substance use disorders, differently? The answer is Stigma. The real question however, is how do we stop it?
The Effects of Stigma
Fear and misunderstanding often lead to prejudice against people with mental illness and addictions, even among service providers. It's one of the main reasons why many people don't consider it a real health issue. This prejudice and discrimination leads to feelings of hopelessness and shame in those struggling to cope with their situation, creating a serious barrier to diagnosis and treatment.