Stigma and Treatment
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) reports that 1 in 5 Americans will have some sort of behavioral or mental health disorder (MHD) at some point in their life. According to the National Institute of Health (NIH) 10% of Americans will have a substance misuse disorder (SUD) at some point in their life.
You may read that and think, “That’s not so many”. Consider this: Of the 20% of Americans who suffer with a mental health disorder, less than half will receive treatment. In addition, 76% of young people who suffer with depression receive no treatment for their condition.
Now is the time for change. Need for mental health and substance abuse treatment is increasing. Not all who need care are successfully accessing it.
A number of barriers exist to accessing care.
- Lack of professionals in both mental health and substance abuse.
- The cost of care – especially for those without adequate coverage.
- Stigma – defined as,” a set of negative and often unfair beliefs that a society or group of people have about something.” An individual deeply perceives a feeling of stigma in the cases of substance abuse and mental health disorders and is less likely to try to find care.
- Lack of Professional Development in Medicine– Even today many physicians, nurses and other health care professional are uncomfortable having a discussion with a patient about these issues. Professional development opportunities are lacking.
Read more about addiction and stigma:
When someone is suffering from one of these conditions there are a few things to remember when interacting with them and encouraging them to stake steps towards improved well-being:
- Listen without judgement if someone confides in you
- Don’t use dehumanizing terms such as “Junkie”
- Research how drug dependency works and learn more about SUD/MHD
- Educate others on your findings
- Speak up when you see stigma
- Remember that anyone can fall victim to these conditions. Listen to the entire story.
- Remind the person that after they have completed treatment they have the potential to do anything they set their minds to.
- Be kind
Make other people matter in your life. Spread the word. Be part of the change. Make a difference. Choose wellness.