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Stigma and Society – Economic Impacts

We know that stigma negatively affects those of us with mental illnesses. There is no doubt or question about that at all, and I will talk about that more in a different article. But the effects of stigma have a more far-reaching negative impact, as they also negatively impacts society as a whole.

One of the impacts of stigma is that people who suffer do not get the help they need because of how society might treat them. So these people suffer silently, hiding their challenges, pretending that nothing is wrong, and all too often not even getting diagnosed.

So how does this affect society as a whole?

When people are untreated, they have to try to deal with things on their own. Often times these people tend to “deal” and “cope” with things in destructive manners because they do not know what is going on or how to cope in a safe and productive way. These destructive ways can take a lot of forms, ranging from substance abuse (both liquor and drugs), violent outbursts and actions, self-harm, and reckless actions to name just a few.

All of these behaviors limit a person’s ability to take part in society in a productive way. They reduce the person’s productivity at work. They lead to an increase in days missed from work. This in turn can lead to increased stress on the members of the team. This in turn leads to increased risk of illnesses of the body. Around and around she goes.

All this can lead to missed deadlines, delayed projects, and cost overrun. This means that companies either need to raise prices or risk lower revenue. Lower revenue leads to reductions in the work force, which means more people struggling to make ends meet. This leads to an increase in the number of people who will suffer from depression. Once again, around and around she goes.

This of course is an over simplification of things, but I think it illustrates a very real concern. Stigma is not only damaging to the people it targets, but it is damaging to society as a whole

Posted: May 9th, 2012 under Mental Health Awareness, Stigma.

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