Incidence of stigma surrounding
An incident of stigma I have been exposed to surrounds mental health and anxiety disorder. My boyfriend has been diagnosed with panic disorder. The stigma surrounding it has greatly affected him at work. During times of stress or exposure to different situations he becomes nervous and may have a panic attack. On two separate occasions, he has been fired from a job that he has just started due to having a bad week with the anxiety. After one week of employment, he was fired from jobs as they did not understand his anxiety and what was making him act in a nervous way. The employer did not take the time to talk to him and understand why he was anxious. In addition, he has been told on multiple occasions to go home and “deal with it” and come back tomorrow ready to work. These instances clearly indicate stigma around mental illness and not wanting to “deal” with people and their different needs. This overlooks individuals and disregards any talents and work ethic they may be able to provide to the team.
Using the Kolb’s experiential learning cycle, this is a concrete example of the stigma surrounding mental health (Kolb, 1976). As I reflect on this observation, it becomes apparent how easy it is to stigmatize someone with a disability. It is easy to judge someone based on a physical disability and most do not look past the disability to see the person for who they really are. Looking on this experience, I observe these employers have treated him unfairly and never gave him a chance to showcase his talents. The employer only saw someone who is anxious and has different needs that he does. This shows these employers did not want to put up with someone with mental illness and allow them to work through their struggles. They have excluded him from this working society based on stigma and mental health (MacFarlane, 2017). It is unfair as there is no opportunity to showcase individual skill sets as the employer was so focused on his “disability”. I agree that disability is a social construction that is made by others who are afraid of those who are different from themselves (Jones, 1996). The stigma towards mental health puts distances between people with disabilities and those without (MacFarlane, 2017).
Personal Action Plan
As a future professional, I plan to take my experiences with stigma and mental health to help those who are dealing with these issues. I will also follow the Best Practice Guidelines when seeing patients (HSE, 2018). I will listen to my patients speak about the mental health difficulties they may be experiencing. I will show empathy, compassion, and I will be sensitive with the information that they are sharing (HSE, 2018). I will respect my patients and encourage in a non-judgment practise where they can talk about anything. In addition, I will be an advocate for mental health and to ensure that I would never judge someone based on a disability. I know my interactions with patients should not compound these negative stigmas in any way. I will be an advocate for mental health, talking at schools, events, and being involved in mental health awareness programs. I want people with mental health issues to feel comfortable asking for help. I want to be part of the healthcare system that does not judge people for something that they may not understand, such as issues surrounding mental health.