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According to World Health Organization (WHO), health refers to the state of being mental, physically and socially well (WHO | mental health, 2016). Mental health is a state of well-being in which every individual can recognize his or her potential, cope with the normal stress of life, work productively and make a progressive contribution to the community (WHO | mental health, 2016). However, mental health problems are common in the society and may be caused by grim life experiences, generic dynamics, and biological factors. Consequently, stigmatization has been a persisted problem. Self and public stigma affects those suffering from mental disorder and is among the most significant risk factor for promoting mental health. As a result, affected people are challenged by prejudice and stereotypes caused by misconceptions about the illness (Taghva, 2017). Some of the practices and programs in the community that may control and reduce the increased levels of stigmatization, especially among those with serious psychiatric disorders include
The anti-stigma education programs aim at providing information about mental conditions. The strategy corrects misinformation and contradicting negative beliefs and attitude. Likewise, education counters inaccurate put persisted myths and stereotypes by spreading factual and reliable statistics. For instance, they are those who believe that people with mental illness are violent but an educational program would show statistics showing that homicide and crime rates are even intensive to the public (Taghva, 2017). Education programs can be designed for the local or national audience and when integrated effectively with other strategies it has lasting progress.
Mental Health Literacy Campaigns
Mental health literacy campaigns is a common strategy and involve using learning institutions to address mental needs of young people. The initiative improves knowledge, attitudes, and promotes the development of constructive behaviors among learners (Taghva, 2017). In some cases, those suffering from psychiatric disorder tend to avoid seeking needed services. Literacy campaigns would encourage people to seek psychiatric help without feeling segregated or inferior.
Contact-based strategies can be used to reduce both self and public stigma. Peer services encourage teams, groups and organizations to identify existing problems and suggest possible coping approaches. Mostly, such solutions are essential while countering segregation and rejection arising from mental health illness. Peer contact also promotes and encourage people to seek treatment without fear of being isolated.
Protests and Advocacy
Protests are part of civil rights agendas and have been used in the society to object negative representation or views. Mental illness stigma protests should take place at grassroots levels to condemn discrimination and advocate for equality. Demonstrations also awake and energize dormant organizations and leaders to rise against the harmful effects of stigma (Taghva, 2017). In fact, whenever politicians, journalist and community leaders are involved in protests they create awareness and a sense of solidarity against the vice of stigmatizing those suffering from mental disorder.
Improving the Perception of, and Interaction with, the Police
Being mentally ill does not lead to engaging in criminal activities, but contact with police is a common occurrence. The reasons for increased police encounters is complex and may be attributed to clinical risk factors, co-occurring substance use, poverty, homelessness, and intolerance of social disorders (Krameddine & Silverstone, 2015). Likewise, police have assumed extended function including maintaining social order. They respond to a series of publicly displayed aberrant activities and behaviors, therefore, widely influencing the lives of people with the mental condition. Nevertheless, some law enforcement strategies and police attitude have had a negative impact on the well-being and liberty of people suffering from mental disorder. The interaction with police makes one feel powerless and intimidated leading to stigma and reduced self-esteem (Engel, 2015). Some of the programs that would improve the perception of, and interaction with, the police include
Police Training and Education
Advanced police education programs can be one of the most significant approaches to reducing negative encounters between law enforcers and people with mental conditions. The training should ensure police acquire skills to handle the demanding situation without oppressing the alleged offenders. Some of the areas the facilitators should address are communication, awareness of mental illness, respect for all people, compassion, and non-violent means of interaction (Brink et.al 2011). In most cases, the police handle prevailing situations without the knowledge that a person's cognition and behaviors can be affected by the psychiatric disorder. Therefore, police education on mental illness and its effects would improve law enforcers' attitude towards those suffering from the mental condition.
The government should crack down and hold police accountable for any form of abusive conduct. In most cases, the law enforcers are not open to taking complaints or suggestions from mentally ill people. Consequently, we are left vulnerable to victimization. Improving accountability and having independent oversight of the police would mend the interactions of and perceptions with, the police.
Distinguishing and Rewarding Positive Practices
A considerable number of people condemns police practices in relation to their manner of handling situations involving mentally ill peoples. In some cases, cops should be accredited for the situations they have handled diligently and in a constructive manner. For example, they are police officers who have a reputation for being mental health awareness and such efforts should be recognized to encourage others to resolve social issues with dignity (Brink et.al 2011). Nevertheless, to promote transparency such initiatives should be connected to our communities.
In conclusion, mental illness should be considered as any other disease. Stigmatization, therefore, should be condemned in all terms to encourage affected people take part in community construction. Law-enforcement officers should also reduce the number of undesirable outcomes while interacting with mentally ill persons. Therefore, the community, policing department and government should lead in managing stigma and victimization among those suffering from the psychiatric disorder.
Brink, J., Livingston, J., Desmarais, S., Greaves, C., Maxwell, V., Michalak, E., ... & Weaver, C.(2011). A Study of How People with Mental Illness Perceive and Interact with the Police.Calgary, AB: Mental Health Commission of Canada.
Engel, R. S. (2015). Police Encounter with People with Mental Illness. Criminology & Public Policy, 14(2), 247-251.
Krameddine, Y. I., & Silverstone, P. H. (2015). How to improve interactions between police andthe mentally ill. Frontiers in psychiatry, 5, 186.
Taghva, A. (2017). Strategies to reduce the stigma toward people with mental disorders in Iranbased on stakeholders view A qualitative study. European Psychiatry, 41, S519.
WHO | mental health: a state of well-being. (2016). Retrieved fromhttp://www.who.int/features/factfiles/mental_health/en/
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