End of Semester Recap on Stigma of Mental Illness

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My Topic: My topic is on stigma associated with mental illnesses – specifically, in college students.

My Essays: My first essay was a definition paper; I defined what stigma was, and how it is associated with mental illnesses. I related it to college, and said how it is possible for students to feel depressed and alone while they are away at school. This is why it is important for them to feel as if they have friends that support them, and do not judge them for their mental illness. I included examples of stigma, and said how college students may feel isolated and alone. I wanted to explain stigma as much as I could so my audience had a clear idea of what it was.

My second essay was a rebuttal essay; I refuted the idea that those who are mentally ill are “crazy”, or “dangerous”. I explained how just because someone has a mental illness, does not mean that they are a bad person, or crazy. For my final essay, I did a proposal paper, where I suggested solutions to reducing stigma associated with mental illness. I related it to college students, and explained how there should be educational programs on it in classrooms

My Research Methods: To find articles, I went to Rowan’s library website, and looked at the databases that they provided. I would select the “Academic Search Premier”, and type in key words of what research I was looking for. Sometimes I would use the “Psychology Journal” database. Also, I did not ask friends or family about my topic; however, I used myself as a baseline of what I was writing about. I know what it is like to feel alone and judged,  and I wanted to write essays that demonstrated how stigma is a national problem that needs to be changed.

 

Sources: Source for Essay 1Source for Essay 2Source for Essay 3

 

Final Observations: I learned that there are other countries in the world that are trying to reduce stigma against mental illnesses. I was also reminded of words that come to mind to the people who stigmatize those who are mentally ill; some of the words include “nuts”, “psycho”, “weird” etc. It also seemed as if stigma as decreased over the years, compared to 2007; however, it is definitely still a problem and is not free from our world. I still think that there needs to be more awareness on it. The research did not change my perspective – it enhanced it. There were so many articles that were protesting against people who have stigma towards those with mental illnesses. It was nice to see that multiple sources are writing about this topic. In the future, I hope that people can become more understanding, and try to imagine themselves in someone else’s shoes. I hope that stigma can be diminished so that those who are struggling do not have to feel alone and afraid of what others think of them.

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For my final essay, I will propose a solution for reducing stigma, specifically in college students. It will be a policy proposal, since a major plan of action is needed throughout all colleges – not just Rowan University. Stigma attached to mental illness is a universal problem, and I want to write about how there should be more programs on raising awareness on these topics. There should be programs throughout middle school and high school (before students reach the college level). By the time they are in college, they will have less stigma than they would have if they didn’t receive awareness on it. Students can be able to go into college with a more open and understanding mindset.

In an article that I found, called “Better Ways to Battle the Silent Epidemic on Campuses”, author Simon Williams “reflects on how colleges can help normalize mental illness and reduce any associated stigma, suggesting that schools recommend mental-health screening to students and make mental-health education a compulsory aspect of the curriculum.” He says how college students can benefit from routinely mental health screenings. I agree with this, and want to mention suggestions like this in my essay, because I feel that if everyone is being tested, that alone will bring awareness on mental health. I will mention how there are already support groups on some campuses, and that some students do not know about them.

 

WILLIAMS, SIMON. “Better Ways to Battle the Silent Epidemic on Campuses.” Chronicle of Higher Education, vol. 60, no. 38, 06 June 2014, p. A56. EBSCOhost, search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=aph&AN=96326224&site=ehost-live.

Visual Argument: Stigma of Mental Illnesses

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    In this image, the author demonstrates how there is stigma associated with mental illness throughout the world. There is stigma in countries other than the United States; for example, it shows Lithuania that people who have serious mental illnesses cannot own a home. I think that the author is trying to say that stigma goes beyond the U.S, and that it should stop completely – no matter where someone is from in the world. There are anti-stigma campaigns that are listed in the bottom left corner in a little key. The use of colors allows the reader to distinguish where each campaign is going on in the world, due to the key that provides different colors for each country. The boxes help organize the difference between each country, instead of being in a list, with just words. The picture of the map is meant to show that there is stigma throughout the world – since it is visual to the reader, it is easier to understand the impact it has on the entire world, rather than just in the U.S. The argument of this entire image is that there is stigma associated with mental illness throughout our world, and it needs to stop. By having the little key of anti-stigma campaigns, it displays how the world is working towards reducing, and even diminishing stigma from mental illness entirely.

Reflection Essay 2

I am most proud of what I was refuting in my second essay; I was refuting the stereotypes and ideas that people with mental illnesses are “dangerous”, or possibly “bad people”. The definition and rebuttal essays were a bit similar, because I felt in both I had to define what stigma meant. I definitely had to go into depth about what stigma meant in my first essay, but it was still necessary to mention the stigma that comes along with mental illnesses in my rebuttal essay. It was kind of hard to control the way that I wanted my paper to be, because it was difficult finding articles/sources that displayed stigma for the mentally ill. Most of the articles I found had general statements of what was assumed about the mentally ill, but I could not find an exact article that bashed people with mental illnesses.

However, I was able to find an interesting study that recorded negative words that were associated with people with mental illnesses. Research was definitely a big part of this specific essay – I needed a specific source to refute, which was hard to find. In terms of composing, I felt that I was more mindful of what I was writing. I made sure that I did not make the same errors that I did in the first essay. I think that this essay was a bit harder to write than the first one, but I tried my best to reach the same level as the first essay. Specifically, with this essay, I struggled with finding quotes and trying to connect them to what I was trying to say.

 

Peer Review Experience

I have completed the very beginning of my essay, with an introduction, and a body paragraph. I like my main topic sentence – I think that it catches the reader’s attention. I think that I need to make my thesis stronger, and provide more real life examples. My goal is to find an article that I can refute; it will be on someone’s opinion of mental illness not being real, or saying that mentally ill people are dangerous. My writing process for this essay has been a bit different from my first essay; I feel as if I had more information and facts over time, whereas for this essay, I have to find sources within one class. I feel that I need to work on this essay at a faster pace, and dive into it.

My peer reviewer said that I had a vague thesis, so I think that I can improve on it. They said that my introduction was good because I included some personal aspects to it. She said that I need to add more facts and quotes, which I agree. I think that her feedback was helpful because it made me see that someone else is viewing my thesis as not having enough detail. I know what I need to fix, and by reading her work, I realized that there are some things I can look for in my own essay. For example, I was a bit confused on what her rebuttal was about; with this being said, I want to make sure that it is clearing what I am refuting in my essay. Reading her essay inspired me to come up with a clear, supported essay that the reader can understand.

Rebuttal Essay

My life is such a mess

In “Let’s Call Mental Health Stigma What It Really Is: Discrimination”, Lindsay Holmes describes how there is a bad reputation around mental illnesses. She says how people are taught to associate shame with it – that if they have a mental illness, that means they have a character deficiency, or that they should be treated less favorably since they can be “dangerous”. Based on the claim that mental illness is “dangerous”, along with other stereotypes, I will be writing a rebuttal paper. I want to show how it can be possible to understand mental illness, with as little judgment as possible.

I will be rebutting the idea that people who are mentally ill are “crazy”, or “dangerous”. I will include examples of acts of violence that was committed by people with mental disorders, but explain how that does not mean that every single person with a mental illness will be violent. There are statistics that show who are the people who commit violent acts; apparently, most of them do not have mental illnesses. I will talk about how stigma is actually discrimination against people that are struggling in their daily lives.

Holmes, Lindsay. “Let’s Call Mental Health Stigma What It Really Is: Discrimination.”         Huffington Post. N.p., 17 Feb. 2017. Web. 20 Mar. 2017. <http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/mental-health-discrimination_us_57e55d07e4b0e28b2b53a896&gt;.

Annotated Bibliography

Theriot, Matthew T. “Using Popular Media to Reduce New College Students’ Mental Illness Stigma.” Social Work in Mental Health, vol. 11, no. 2, Mar/Apr2013, pp. 118-140. EBSCOhost, doi:10.1080/15332985.2012.745462. Web. 10 Mar. 2017.

This article explains how most people associate mental illness with traumatic/extreme events, such as shootings, or with movies that have characters that act a bit out of the ordinary, or appear to be “crazy”. It talks about how there only seems to be a discussion on mental illness when someone does something that is deviant or hard to understand. The images that the media provide us can contribute to discrimination of the mentally ill. I can include this information in my next essay, and provide ways that the media can portray mental illness in a better way, in order to decrease the stigma that is attached with it.

O’Hara, Ross E., et al. “Emotional Stress-Reactivity and Positive Affect among College Students: The Role of Depression History.” Emotion, vol. 14, no. 1, Feb. 2014, pp. 193-202. EBSCOhost, doi:10.1037/a0034217. Web. 12 Mar. 2017.

This article discusses the causes of mental illnesses, specifically, depression. Some college students are born with depression; therefore, they cannot help the fact that they have this mood disorder. With that being said, it is unfair how these people are being stigmatized due to something that they cannot control. I can mention this point in my next essay as background information as to why college students are vulnerable to depression. Then, I can go on to talk about the ways that stigma can potentially be reduced so that these students can feel supported.

Composing an annotated bibliography can be a lot of work, especially if it is done all in one process. However, by adding one or two new sources once in a while can help build up the bibliography so that valid sources are found over time, instead of finding sources in a rush. I think that it is important to have one because it makes it easier for the reader to see where the sources came from, and the title and author of them. I think that it helps with the writing process since it is a way to view what each source is about, due to the annotation that comes with the alphabetical order of sources.