Thankfully, mental health disorders are becoming less stigmatized, and not just socially. More and more health insurance companies are starting to provide better benefits for those with physical and mental disabilities. However, there’s still a lingering stigma for a few reasons. “People tend to view mental illness as a sign of weakness that people should just be able to ‘get over,’ and many view it as a title given to those who are just ‘crazy,’” Wyatt Fisher, a Colorado-based licensed psychologist, said in an interview with The Cheat Sheet.
It’s also difficult to empathize with a mental condition if you or someone you know has never experienced one. “This can lead to the ‘othering’ of people with mental health disorders,” Dr. Shanthi Mogali, a double board-certified physician in general and addiction psychiatry and director of psychiatry at Mountainside Treatment Center, told Us. “As with any systematic othering of an entire group of people, prejudice and fear can dictate how individuals with mental illnesses are treated.”
To help demystify mental disorders, we talked to top experts in the fields of psychology for their insight into why certain mental disorders are so widely misunderstood.
1. Obsessive-compulsive disorder
When most people think of obsessive-compulsive disorder, they think of someone who’s a total neat-freak or perfectionist. In reality, OCD is much more than a quirky tic, habit, or desire to be perfect. “Symptoms of OCD can range from what we’ve seen on television — like obsessive washing of hands or arranging and rearranging items until satisfied to obsessive prayer to prevent harm or constantly checking some part of the body,” said Mogali. “These obsessive thoughts and/or compulsive behaviors can cause deep distress in the individual suffering from the disorder.” The best treatment plan for someone with OCD is psychotherapy, particularly cognitive behavioral therapy, and certain medications.