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What Must We do to Remove Stigma Associated With Addiction or Mental Health Problems

05 Jul 2023

May is Mental Health Awareness Month, and despite the fact that the public discourse on mental health has changed dramatically over the past decade, there are still stark differences between males and mental health. Barriers such as stigma, masculinity norms, and social factors have direct effects on how men perceive, approach, and manage their mental health. Although all genders are affected by mental health, it is often overlooked in men because they are less likely than women to speak up or seek assistance. According to a report by the World Health Organisation, the number of male suicide deaths in high-income countries in 2018 was three times that of female suicide deaths. The obstacles that men frequently encounter when discussing and treating mental illness are not novel. Expanding the conversation about why these barriers exist, however, can help raise awareness of the issue and alleviate the shame or "differentness" that many males feel regarding mental health.

In theory, discussing mental health with others is similar to discussing a broken bone or other physical ailment, but the stigma prevents many men from speaking up. Not only does stigma prevent men from disclosing mental illness to loved ones, but it also prevents them from coping with or seeking help on their own. Men's relationship with mental health is affected by social stigma, self-stigmatization, occupational stigma, and cultural stigma, among others. A negative example is the belief that "people with depression are weak." This type of external stigma arises from the misconception that mental illness reflects an individual's personality. These misunderstandings result in stigma, avoidance, and rejection of individuals with mental illness. Self-stigma, also known as perceived stigma, is an internal stigma that an individual places on themselves. Self-stigmatized individuals internalise negative attitudes and opinions regarding their mental illness, which results in judgement and humiliation regarding their symptoms. When health care professionals propagate stigma against patients through negative attitudes, occupational stigma results. These attitudes are frequently motivated by fear or a lack of comprehension regarding the causes and symptoms of mental illness. In addition, the public or other health care professionals may stigmatise professionals because of their work and association with mentally unwell individuals. The concept of cultural stigma refers to how a culture interprets mental illness. Culture influences a person's beliefs, values, and norms, and has a direct bearing on how people evaluate certain diseases. Culture also influences whether individuals seek assistance, the type of assistance they seek, and how they respond and support.

A report titled "Changing the Language of Addiction" was published in 2017 by Michael P. Botticelli, Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy of USA. As per the document, certain terminologies employed while discussing substance use may imply that the individual in question is inherently flawed. The author proceeds to assert that the term "person in recovery" encompasses a range of interpretations, but typically denotes an individual who is reducing or ceasing their substance use in order to attain a healthier state. Individuals undergoing recovery can persist with the administration of pharmacological interventions and avail themselves of biopsychosocial support.[1]

Our society's notion of masculinity prevents many men from speaking out about their concerns.

Our culture and society's pervasive masculine standards present a further barrier for men with mental health issues. Masculinity norms are the culturally expected social and behavioural norms of masculinity. Idioms such as "be strong", "be a man", and "don't make a man cry" perpetuate the notion that men should not exhibit sorrow or sadness, and that doing so is a sign of weakness. These masculinity norms discourage men from seeking assistance from mental health professionals for fear of having their masculinity diminished. Men are also less likely to seek medical assistance than women because they disregard their symptoms, self-stigmatize, and avoid discussing their mental health. In the United States and many other cultures, men are typically not taught or socialised to discuss their emotions or problems. Conversely, the majority of women learn how to express themselves, whereas the majority of males are completely excluded from conversations. They cannot discuss their concerns, and some cannot even identify them.

More obstacles for males of colour in terms of their mental health

Men of colour face additional challenges and risk factors that affect their mental health and attitudes, in addition to stigma and masculinity. Increased exposure to destitution and violence, lack of economic opportunity, and high incarceration rates are risk factors for men of colour. Men of colour are at a higher risk for isolation and mental illness due to the stigma against all male help seekers and unique stressors.

When a person has one or more mental health disorders and a substance use disorder (SUD), they have a dual diagnosis or concurrent disorder. Often, mental health disorders and SUDs co-occur because some individuals with mental illness self-medicate with substances, and substance abuse can drastically exacerbate or even cause new mental health disorder symptoms. Although co-occurring disorders can affect people of any gender, some substance use disorders are more prevalent among males. Given the additional concern that men are less likely than women to seek treatment for health problems and substance addiction, co-occurring disorders in men may not be reported.

Let us proceed and remove the stigma from mental health and addiction.

Our language helps us understand and interpret the world around us. They convey meaning whether the effect is good or bad. We can use our words to help decrease stigma.[2]

We can reduce stigma by shifting the view and the visibility of recovering individuals. The community needs to create a visible social identity of recovery and meaningful activity.[3]

As Wilton and DeVerteuil have demonstrated, a highly visible recovery community with celebrations of recovery achievement can change the outlying community’s attitudes and perceptions.[4]

Stigma-reducing interventions focus on promoting self-esteem and self-efficacy; empowerment through peer support, mentoring, and education to dispel myths and increase social and coping skills; and education to encourage treatment engagement [5]. Treatment engagement is significant because evidence-based treatments have been shown to facilitate recovery by promoting behaviors, such as symptom monitoring, continuing to take prescribed medications, and seeking out supported employment opportunities; and by encouraging family interventions, increasing skills related to illness management, and promoting entry into integrated treatment for mental and substance use disorders [5][6][7](Corrigan et al., 2009a, 2009b, 2014). For many individuals, disclosure may be an initial step in the process of reducing self-stigma when it can be done in a safe and strategic manner (Bos et al., 2009; Corrigan and Rao, 2012).[8][9]

Despite the norms, biases, and certain risk factors that cause men to struggle with their mental health and seek treatment, more men are sharing their personal experiences specially at the best alcohol addiction treatment center in India. Numerous male athletes and personalities, discuss their experiences with anxiety and depression openly, today. Talking about your mental illness experiences can open avenues for others by directly challenging the stigma that surrounds you. It is essential that individuals receive the assistance and treatment they may require to maintain mental health at the best treatment center for alcohol addiction, regardless of social, cultural, or even personal expectations. Contact for knowing about the the best rehabilitation centres in India for addiction and mental health problems.

Read More Top 10 Luxury Rehabs Centres in India


  1. Botticelli MP: Changing the language of addiction. Office of Drug Control Policy,. [] Accessed on 19 June 2023.
  2. Snodgrass S. The Power of Words: Changing the Language of Addiction. Dunlap: Broken No More. Accessed on 19 June 2023.
  3. Zwick, J., Appleseth, H. & Arndt, S. Stigma: how it affects the substance use disorder patient. Subst Abuse Treat Prev Policy 15, 50 (2020). Accessed on 19 June 2023.

  1. Wilton R, DeVerteuil G. Spaces of sobriety/sites of power: examining social model alcohol recovery programs as therapeutic landscapes. Soc Sci Med. 2006;63(3):649–61.

Accessed on 19 June 2023.

  1. Corrigan PW, Larson JE, Ruesch N. Self-stigma and the “why try” effect: Impact on life goals and evidence-based practices. World Psychiatry. 2009a;8(2):75–81.

Accessed on 19 June 2023.

  1. Corrigan PW, Kuwabara SA, O'Shaughnessy J. The public stigma of mental illness and drug addiction findings from a stratified random sample. Journal of Social Work. 2009b;9(2):139–147.

Accessed on 19 June 2023.

  1. Corrigan PW, Druss BG, Perlick DA. The impact of mental illness stigma on seeking and participating in mental health care. Psychological Science in the Public Interest. 2014;15(2):37–70. Accessed on 19 June 2023.

  1. Bos AE, Kanner D, Muris P, Janssen B, Mayer B. Mental illness stigma and disclosure: Consequences of coming out of the closet. Issues in Mental Health Nursing. 2009;30(8):509–513. Accessed on 19 June 2023.

  1. Corrigan PW, Rao D. On the self-stigma of mental illness: Stages, disclosure, and strategies for change. Canadian Journal of Psychiatry. 2012;57(8):464. Accessed on 19 June 2023.



Dr. Danish Hussain (MBBS, MD Psychiatry, MIPS)

Dr. Danish received his M.D. Psychiatry and M.B.B.S. degrees from Rajiv Gandhi University of Medical Sciences (Bangalore, Karnataka). He has worked at the Manipal Multispecialty Hospitals Bangalore, following which has continued to undergo regular training from prestigious institutes from all over the world. Dr. Danish serves as Assistant Professor and Head of Department of Psychiatry at AFSMS & RC and is a member of Indian Psychiatric Society. Dr. Danish uses a holistic approach with his patients and brings his expertise at practice to treat varied behavioral health problems from Addiction disorders to Depression, Anxiety, Personality disorders and OCD. Dr. Danish’s goal is to educate and inform the public on addiction issues and help those in need of treatment find the best option for them. And with this being his consistent vision, he believes in de-stigmatizing the field of addiction psychiatry and rehabilitation center treatment in India and has been managing and working at a licensed dual-diagnosis facility in New Delhi. Through his contributions to he aims at providing licensed, professional rehabilitative care choices to patients and their families.


Sudipta Rath (M. Phil in Clinical Psychology)

Sudipta Rath has completed her MPhil in clinical psychology from Utkal University in Odisha (India) in 2020 and is currently practicing in New Delhi as a clinical psychologist at dual diagnosis facility. She is a licensed RCI practitioner specializing in all forms of psychotherapy. Addiction and mental health are personal subjects for her, and her goal is that she can give a helping hand to those seeking healthy and lasting recovery.

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