Adolescents coping with the stigma of mental illness

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Being diagnosed with a mental illness is not a pleasant experience for anyone at the best of times but what about when an adolescent is diagnosed with a mental health problem, the experience must surely be much worse.

An increasing number of young people are being diagnosed with a mental health problem for which they receive medication but at the same time they also have to cope with the stigma that still surrounds mental health making them feel more isolated than ever.

Previous studies into stigma have generally focussed on adults but now, in one of the first studies to concentrate on adolescents between the ages of 12 and 17 who were taking medication, the researchers discovered that the majority of those involved, in fact a whopping 90 percent of these kids, had experienced some sort of stigma which led to shame, secrecy, and which limited their social interactions.

The study came from Case Western Reserve University Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences. The researchers noted that everyone suffers some sort of stigma whether from the public or from themselves and much is already known about adult stigma but the researchers were interested to find out if the adolescent experience of stigma was the same as adults.

The findings from this stigma study came from secondary data from a major study that investigated the subjective experience of adolescent psychotropic treatment.

Forty youngsters in the study reported that the attitudes of their parents and teachers at school either protect against or magnify their feelings of being different or ashamed because of their mental illness.

“Parents, who embrace and love their children for whom they are and accept the illness as part of their child’s being, help their children overcome these stigmas” said Derrick Kranke, the lead author on an article in Children and Youth Services Review article, ‘Stigma Experience Among Adolescents Taking Psychiatric Medications.’

The researchers also found that if at school, the kids felt ostracised by their peers and teachers, the effect could be devastating and lead to dropping out of school or even suicide.

It’s vitally important that we tackle stigma at all levels, particularly as it could prevent someone who really does need help from seeking that help with tragic consequences. Until we all learn that mental health problems do not discriminate against anyone and that everyone is at risk throughout the whole of their lives, stigma will persist.

Learn how I beat Depression


  1. Janet
    Posted June 22, 2010 at 7:02 pm | Permalink

    I am intriqued by the EPA oil and diet changes and how it might relate to my 16 year old’s depression. I want so much to help him. He is currently on Prozac…would the EPA oil counteract or have an effect on the medication?

  2. Karl
    Posted June 22, 2010 at 7:31 pm | Permalink

    When i started to take the oil I was also on anti depressants , as soon as I felt that the capsules were having a positive effect on my mood I threw them in the bin right away, this is somthing alot of people would frown upon and certainly not somthing the “drug compaines” sorry I meant dr’s would recommend , I just couldnt stand the side effects of the drugs. I think it perfectly safe to run them side by side thou.

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