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Addressing the Cultural Barriers of Treating Mental Illness

First Posted: Sep 05, 2014 10:13 AM EDT

It's estimated that over 60 million Americans are mentally ill.

However, despite medical treatments and therapy options, many stigmas will prevent seriously mental ill individuals from receiving the proper care they need to life a better life, according to recent findings published in Psychological Science in the Public Interest.

"The prejudice and discrimination of mental illness is as disabling as the illness itself. It undermines people attaining their personal goals and dissuades them from pursuing effective treatments," said lead study author and psychological scientist Patrick W. Corrigan of the Illinois Institute of Technology, in a news release. "One does not work long on mental health issues before recognizing the additional hardships caused by stigma," write Former U.S. First Lady Rosalynn Carter, Rebecca Palpant Shimkets, and Thomas H. Bornemann of the Carter Center Mental Health Program in a commentary that accompanies the report. These problems continue today, they add, in the form of poor funding for research and services compared to other illnesses; structural forms of discrimination; and "widespread, inaccurate, and sensational media depictions that link mental illness with violence."

For their work, researchers delved into stigmas that are often associated with societal institutions and systems, referencing the fact that mental health issues are not covered under insurance.

In the report, researchers address these stigmas and how to help increase care among those seeking help for a mental illness. Certain approaches at operate levels, such as promoting personal stories of recovering and enhancing support systems, also provide better support for individuals dealing with the health issue.

On a similar note, many officials have made gains over the past few decades via an increasing number of people receiving adequate and appropriate mental health care.

The new findings survey existing scientific research on mental health care participation as a way to advance efforts that eradicate the barrier.

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