October 7, 2013, 4:53 pm
By The Carter Center
On World Mental Health Day, Oct. 10, we here at The Carter Center will pause to reflect upon the many advances in the field of mental health, including improvements in diagnosing and treating mental illnesses, as well as advancing parity for mental health in our health care system. Despite this progress, however, myths and misperceptions about these disorders persist, which can lead to social stigma and discrimination.
“Unfortunately, there just isn’t a lot of education out there about mental illnesses, what causes these disorders, and how they can be treated. As a result, many people who suffer from mental illnesses are afraid that if they seek medical help, they will be ostracized by their communities,” says Rebecca Palpant Shimkets, assistant director of the Carter Center’s Mental Health Program.
“In addition, stigma and misinformation breed the more serious problem of people facing discrimination when seeking jobs, housing, or transportation,” Shimkets says. “On a larger scale, public funding, services, and supports often are considerably less available or robust than other kinds of medical care, even though mental illnesses affect one in four Americans each year.”
Research shows that one of the best ways to fight stigma and discrimination is to have communities meet and talk about these issues. For this reason, we invite you to join our conversation in the comments section below.
Learn more about the Carter Center’s Mental Health Program.
Read the complete Q&A with Rebecca Palpant Shimkets.