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Stigma in School-Based Mental Health: Perceptions of Young People and Service Providers

Autor:   •  February 1, 2016  •  Essay  •  908 Words (4 Pages)  •  746 Views

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Stigma In School-Based Mental Health: Perceptions Of Young People And Service Providers

A recent article by members of the Ontario Centre of Excellence for Child and Youth Mental Health explores the stigma surrounding mental health through the eyes of high school students and mental health providers. The article explores the statistics of young people with mental health disorders, the barriers of seeking mental health services and the consequences of unmet mental health needs. The article also explains the results of a survey completed by high school aged students and mental health service providers to give a more in-depth look at the emphasis of the need for young people’s involvement in mental health initiatives.

Researchers estimate that one in five adolescents will suffer from a mental health disorder. Half of adult disorders will emerge before the age of 14 and 70% before the age of 18, making adolescence a critical time to identify and seek mental health services for their disorders. However, research suggests that up to 70% of young people who have mental health needs do not access mental health services for a myriad of reasons.

Many barriers are associated with mental health disorders and seeking services for mental health. Two themes emerged when a earlier study was conducted to identify the prevalence of stigma as a barrier of seeking mental health services: family perception and school environment. If there was a negative perception towards mental health in the family, young people tended to feel more shame related to their illness. In the school environment, young people were concerned with the behaviour and attitudes of their peers and teachers in respects to expressing their mental health disorder. If young people felt that the attitudes and behaviours from their peers and teachers were discriminatory or stigmatizing, the young persons would then become more secretive, feeling more shame about their illness and withdrawing from social contact more frequently. The stigma behind mental health disorders and receiving help is more related to males than females. Males are significantly less likely to seek professional help than females.

Another barrier identified in the article was the stigma surrounding the mental health service sector. Service providers reported three main reasons behind the unfortunate existence of stigma in their sector; a lack of value for clients by professionals, a high staff turnover rate and a lack of support for staff from their organizations.

Without appropriate help, mental disorders can be detrimental to a young person’s relationships, school and future life goals.  The stigma becomes dangerous when it interferes with young people connecting to mental health service providers. An unfortunate common consequence of not accessing mental health services for a mental illness is suicide. It is suggested that up to 90% of adolescents who die by suicide had an unmet mental health need.


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