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Recognizing the Stigma Around Mental Health Issues

Updated: Dec 7, 2023

According to the American Psychiatric Association, “More than half of people with mental illness don't receive help for their disorders. Often, people avoid or delay seeking treatment due to concerns about being treated differently or fears of losing their jobs and livelihood.”

While awareness of mental health issues has increased, the stigma, prejudice, and discrimination that surround mental illness still exists. This stigma often comes from lack of understanding or fear, as well as inaccurate, misleading, or over-exaggerated media representations of mental illness.

Part of our mission at Pathfinders Pastoral Care Ministries is to educate individuals, organizations, and churches on the reality of mental health to reduce the stigma and support those living with mental health issues.

Lack of Education Around Mental Health Issues

One of the biggest reasons people develop preconceived notions about mental illness is because they don’t understand it. As a result, this lack of understanding from family members, friends, or co-workers can make a person living with mental health issues feel isolated.

For example, “depression (also known as major depression, major depressive disorder, or clinical depression) is a common but serious mood disorder. It causes severe symptoms that affect how a person feels, thinks, and handles daily activities, such as sleeping, eating, or working (” However, many use the term “depressed” in offhand comments or think of depression as only a state of sadness.

These statements and beliefs belittle the reality of depression and the significant impact it has on a person and their family. The truth is that a person living with depression can’t just smile their way through it; they need medication, therapy, or a combination of the two.

Inaccurate Media Representations

“Media portrayals of those with mental illness often skew toward either stigmatization or trivialization. Consequently, all forms of media—including television, film, magazines, newspapers, and social media—have been criticized for disseminating negative stereotypes and inaccurate descriptions of those with mental illness (”

For instance, words like “crazy,” “nuts,” and “insane” are often used in TV and movies to describe violent mentally ill characters. This perpetuates a harmful stereotype between criminality and mental illness, i.e., those living with mental health issues are dangerous or violent.

Not only do these inaccurate portrayals cloud the reality of mental illness, they can further isolate those living with mental health issues, contributing to self-stigma or feelings of shame and negative beliefs and attitudes that people have about their own mental health condition.

Join Our Mission to Break the Stigma

Like many areas of our lives, people are more likely to seek treatment and adhere to it if they have social support and encouragement from those around them. Pathfinders Pastoral Care Ministries established the R4 Project with the vision of creating environments that are accepting, compassionate, and supportive communities equipped to help carry the burdens of those living with mental health issues.

“Finally, all of you, be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble.” - Peter 3:8

Through the R4 Project, we are committed to reducing the impact of mental health stigma through the education of individuals, businesses, organizations, and churches. Our objective is to Relieve the suffering of those impacted by mental health issues, Reveal Jesus to them, Relate to their family and support networks, and, ultimately, Restore their lives.

Through compassion and insight, everyone can be empowered to transform lives and communities. We invite you to contact us to learn more about hosting Dr. Kevin for a presentation, sermon, keynote, panel, or other type of speaking engagement.


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