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Perception of Mental Health and Mental Illness Issues in the U.S.

An American Psychological Association-commissioned survey found that the great majority of Americans had a positive perspective about mental health diseases and treatment. 87% of people in the United States believe that having a mental health disorder is not anything to be ashamed of, and 86% believe that those with mental health concerns can better their situation (American Psychological Association, 2021). The CEO of the American Psychological Association (APA), Arthur C. Evans Jr., says the poll results are encouraging and show that the organization’s and others’ efforts to promote mental health care are paying off. The outcomes of this research include a greater willingness among older respondents to discuss mental illness openly as well as a strong belief that mental illness is nothing to be ashamed of.

There were 81% who said they would be very or relatively comfortable becoming friends with someone who has a mental illness, and 79% who said they would be very moderately comfortable engaging with someone who has a mental illness, according to the study. There was a little dip in the percentage of individuals who were okay dating someone with a mental health issue to 51%, and just 35% stated they were comfortable allowing those with a mental health disorder to care for their kid (American Psychological Association, 2021). Most Americans do not consider the most prevalent mental health issues to be diseases, which is notable in and of itself. One-third of those polled (33 percent) stated they did not consider anxiety or sadness to be mental illnesses.

In addition, views about suicide were examined in the study. 91% of Americans believe that suicidal persons can be cured and go on to have happy and fulfilling lives, and 88% believe that suicide can frequently be avoided (87 percent). In addition, 87 percent of those polled agreed that people should speak about suicide more freely, and 84 percent of those polled said that individuals should not be afraid to declare a loved one died by suicide. Seventy-nine percent of those polled thought that reducing the stigma and shame associated with mental illness would help reduce the suicide rate (American Psychological Association, 2021). There were also 30 percent of persons who said that if their loved one died by suicide, they would keep the reason of death a secret, while 63% agreed that suicide is a selfish decision.

Despite the good news, there is still some negative connotation. One-third (33%) agreed with the statement “those who have mental health illnesses terrify me,” and 39% stated they would regard someone differently if they were aware of their condition (American Psychological Association, 2021). Nearly four out of ten respondents who had never been diagnosed with a mental health illness or knew someone who had claimed that people with mental health issues terrified them. Only 27% and 28% of those who had been diagnosed with a mental health illness or knew someone who had did so. 59 percent of those polled said they had a friend or family member who had a mental illness.

There is still a strong stigma around mental health in the U.S. Some people with mental health issues experience discrimination and negative treatment in all aspects of their lives and this intensifies their problems. The discrimination comes from the society, employers, the media, family and friends. The media is a major factor to the spread of incorrect stereotypes (Rössler, 2016). Negative and inaccurate media portrayals of mental illness have persisted over the years. Misinformation about mental illness is routinely disseminated via popular culture (movies, TV shows, magazines, etc.) as well as mainstream media (newspapers, magazines, etc.) (Paterson et al., 2018). Violence and crimes done by people with mental health issues are sensationalized more than those committed by those who are otherwise healthy. This creates a distorted picture of mental illness sufferers as dangerous criminals who pose a threat to society. In most cases, people who have mental health problems are least likely to find work, be in long-term romantic relationships, find decent housing and be socially included in the mainstream society. The discrimination makes the individuals have worse mental health problems and may derail them from getting help. They also end up isolating themselves from the general public, live in poorly housed neighborhoods, lack employment and end up in poverty.

Types of mental disorders

Some of the mental disorders include: depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia and dementia. In the globe, depression is the most frequent mental illness and a leading cause of physical and mental health problems. Throughout 264 million individuals around the world suffer from depression, according to current estimates (Fornaro et al.,2020). Women are disproportionately impacted as compared to men. Depression is characterized by distress and low self-esteem. Other symptoms include melancholy, a lack of interest or enjoyment in previously enjoyed activities, and a sense of guilt or self-loathing. In those who suffer from depression, they may also have a variety of physical ailments that have no obvious medical reason. Long-term or recurring depression significantly affects people’s capacity to perform at work or school and to deal with the stresses of everyday life. Depression may lead to suicide at its worst.

Bipolar disorder affects about 45 million individuals globally. Manic and depressive episodes are typically intermingled by periods of normal mood. A manic episode is characterized by an agitated or heightened mood, excessive activity, rapid speech, an inflated feeling of self-worth, and a decreased need for sleep (Fornaro et al.,2020). Someone who has a manic episode but no depression, are still considered to have bipolar illness. The person has lesser abilities of living normally since they are either irritated, have a heightened mood or are deeply depressed. They have grandiose perspectives and sense of worth which may make them engage in circumstances with an ego that may lead to self-destruction.

There are an estimated 20 million individuals worldwide who suffer from schizophrenia. These traits begin to emerge throughout early adulthood. People with schizophrenia and other psychoses have irregularities in their thinking and perception, as well as their emotions, vocabulary, and behaviors (Harrison & Luciano, 2021). Psychosis is characterized by a variety of symptoms, the most prevalent of which are delusions and hallucinations (fixed false beliefs or suspicions that are firmly held even when there is evidence to the contrary). For those who have the condition, it may be difficult to carry out their daily activities. As a result of social and health stigma, people may face discrimination and social exclusion. Patients with psychosis face human rights violations, such as long-term institutionalization.

An estimated 50 million individuals throughout the world suffer from dementia. Alzheimer’s disease and stroke are some of the illnesses that cause dementia. One of the hallmarks of dementia is that cognitive function (the capacity to process thoughts) declines well beyond what would be anticipated as a result of normal aging (Harrison & Luciano, 2021). It has an impact on a person’s ability to remember, think, navigate, comprehend, calculate, comprehend language, and make sound judgments. Deterioration in emotional regulation, social behavior, or motivation is often and infrequently preceded by an impairment in cognitive function.

Non-directive treatment approach and how it can be used to treat mental disorder

Non-directive psychotherapy, also known as client-centered or person-centered psychotherapy, is a method of treating mental health issues that focuses on helping patients gain a better understanding of their own thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. It involves therapists mirroring their clients’ expressed worries and providing regular, warm, “unconditional positive attention,” to help their “clients” see themselves more clearly and interact more honestly with the therapist and others (Švab, 2018). The therapist serves as a facilitator, allowing the client to choose the pace, direction, and end of treatment.

The approach can be used to treat mental disorders since it gives the patient a chance to identify and recognize their problems themselves. The patient is put in a position where they recognize that they need help. The therapist then assists them to analyze, synthesize and diagnose the patient’s issues and predict the future development of the patient’s problems (Švab, 2018). The patient is then prompted to make decisions about the solutions to their problems, analyze their strengths and make a final decision on how to solve the problem. That way, a mental illness patient is prompted to take responsibility of the treatment process since from the start, they are not forced to make decisions, they make the treatment decisions themselves after acknowledging that they have problems.

Directive treatment approach and how it can be used to treat mental disorder

In the directive treatment approach, people are encouraged to learn how to address their own issues with the support of a counselor. Counsellor-centered counseling is another name for this form of therapy since, the counselor does everything from analyzing, synthesizing, diagnosing, prescribing, and following up on his own patients (Švab, 2018). The patients are allowed to make decisions but the counsellor does everything to get the patient make a decision to keep with the diagnosis. The counsellor makes attempts to direct the patient’s thinking in a certain way by informing, explaining the illness and advising them. The approach can be used for the treatment of mental illnesses by prescribing what the patient should do to solve their problems. The patient’s treatment plan is based on how the counsellor understands the abilities and limitations of the patient. Since the counsellor is a professional, it is expected that they will develop plans that will best fit the successful treatment of the patient.


American Psychological Association (2021). Survey: Americans Becoming More Open About Mental Health. APA News and Advocacy.

Fornaro, M., Solmi, M., Stubbs, B., Veronese, N., Monaco, F., Novello, S., … & Vieta, E. (2020). Prevalence and correlates of major depressive disorder, bipolar disorder and schizophrenia among nursing home residents without dementia: Systematic review and meta-analysis. The British Journal of Psychiatry216(1), 6-15.

Harrison, P. J., & Luciano, S. (2021). Incidence of Parkinson’s disease, dementia, cerebrovascular disease and stroke in bipolar disorder compared to other psychiatric disorders: An electronic health records network study of 66 million people. Bipolar Disorders23(5), 454-462.

Paterson, C., Karatzias, T., Dickson, A., Harper, S., Dougall, N., & Hutton, P. (2018). Psychological therapy for inpatients receiving acute mental health care: A systematic review and meta‐analysis of controlled trials. British Journal of Clinical Psychology57(4), 453-472.

Rössler, W. (2016). The stigma of mental disorders: A millennia‐long history of social exclusion and prejudices. EMBO reports17(9), 1250-1253.

Švab, V. (2018). Stigma in mental disorders: What is psychiatry able to do. Psychiatr Danub30(Suppl 4), 172-174.


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