Discrimination against Mentally Ill Individuals

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Updated: Mar 28, 2022
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Social discrimination refers to inequality directed towards a specific social group based on sickness, disability, race, religion, and other social parameters. It is not new in America for people experiencing mental illness to be alienated and oppressed by those that they expect to help them in their time of need. Racial discrimination among minority groups especially blacks has been known to trigger cases of mental illness. Additionally, discrimination against women caused by gender inequality has also been known to cause increased cases of mental illness among women.

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The US, despite being a superpower, is still a patriarchal society and therefore men are still viewed as the superior sex. What is worse is that individuals who decide to take care of mentally ill persons also face discrimination due to the association.

A survey was conducted on the California Mental Health Services Authority to ascertain how California adults undergoing mental health challenges felt about the program. The survey dubbed as California Well-being Survey was the first of its kind to determine how people that were exposed to mental health challenges that had either sought treatment or not and whether they even acknowledged that they had a mental problem. The goal of CWBS was to create a picture of the experiences of people that are in the continued process of risk, self-awareness, and treatment (Brohan et al., 2010). The survey assessed a variety of social dimensions that were affected by stigma related to mental health. CWBS used Spanish and English speakers that demonstrated a mild to moderate or severe level of mental distress. The survey included 1066 respondents of all races, and out of them, 54 percent (N = 578) had CHIS K-6 scores in the mild-to-moderate category and 46 percent (N = 488) in the severe distress category. In terms of social demographic analysis, except for the Hispanic/Latino group, only a small proportion of other minority groups were represented in the CWBS sample. This data was an indication of issues of inequality that minorities face that drive them to become mentally ill.

Recommendations for the Program

Findings by CWBS indicate the need for social support programs such as the California Mental Health Services Authority that aims at reducing the stigma associated with mental health in California. There is a need to reduce discrimination, especially for close social relationships, along with alienation by health care providers and employers (Burnam et al., 2014). There is also a need to avoid adverse effects that result from personal stigma. For instance, personal stigma is known to cause withdrawal from society, prolonging the search for treatment and potential cases of suicide. Targeting high-risk individuals is essential in eliminating self-stigma, which has been linked to perceived public stigma in the past. For example, a person who has mental illness becomes more self-aware after a friend or colleague points out to them a characteristic they are portraying that is linked to mental illness. A simple statement such as “That is crazy” may have a significant impact on a person’s self-esteem and mental health.

Improving Program Services without Increasing Costs

It is not a secret that getting minorities in the community and specifically those that have a connection to mental health challenges to contribute towards the discrimination eradication program is not easy. Majority of these minorities are driven to psychological distress merely because of financial struggles and poor living conditions. As a result, getting them to contribute towards a program, as much as it is beneficial to them, is not an easy task. The problem is that they may not have the funds to contribute, hence why most do not seek health care for mental illness. However, CalMHSA can improve its program services and widen its scope by incorporating Medicaid into their program. Medicaid provides benefits to low-income families and people with disabilities and this fits the portfolio of some of the targeted people that CalMHSA intends to assist. There are also proposed reforms on Medicaid under the Affordable Health Care Act that are seeking to increase Medicaid coverage to include more 82, 000 disadvantaged people. The program could take advantage of this reform and solicit for more beneficiaries, under its CalMHSA program. Additionally, single mothers that are affected by cases of mental illness either directly or indirectly could pursue Medicaid given that there are current welfare reforms are seeking to reduce caseloads and that would negatively affect their cash benefits in the future (Schmidt &Sevak, 2004).


  1. Brohan, E., Elgie, R., Sartorius, N., Thornicroft, G., & GAMIAN-Europe Study Group. (2010). Self-stigma, empowerment and perceived discrimination among people with schizophrenia in 14 European countries: the GAMIAN-Europe study. Schizophrenia research, 122(1-3), 232-238.
  2. Burnam, M. A., Berry, S. H., Cerully, J. L., & Eberhart, N. K. (2014). Evaluation of the California Mental Health Services Authority’s Prevention and Early Intervention Initiatives: Progress and Preliminary Findings. Rand health quarterly, 4(3).
  3. Chambers, D. E., & Bonk, J. F. (2013). Social policy and social programs: A method for the practical public policy analyst (6th ed.). Boston, MA: Pearson.
  4. Schmidt, L., & Sevak, P. (2004). Afdc, ssi, and welfare reform aggressiveness caseload reductions versus caseload shifting. Journal of Human resources, 39(3), 792-812.
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Discrimination Against Mentally Ill Individuals. (2021, May 14). Retrieved from https://papersowl.com/examples/discrimination-against-mentally-ill-individuals/