He was a brilliant student but became mad like his grandfather’: an exploratory investigation on the social perception and stigma against individuals living with mental health problems in Bangladesh
Category:- Journal; Year:- 2022
Discipline:- Sociology Discipline
School:- Social Science School
Worldwide, mental health issues constitute a substantial threat to people’s social, economic, and mental well-being and contribute significantly to many fatalities each year. In Bangladesh, people with mental health issues typically delay contacting health professionals because they prefer traditional or religious healers. Moreover, the situation is exacerbated by a lack of awareness, social stigma, and negative perception of sufferers of mental health issues on the part of families and the community. Therefore, this paper investigates the social perception and stigmatization of individuals living with mental health problems and their caregivers in Khulna, Bangladesh. Data were collected from university students with concurring mental health issues as well as their closest caregivers, who had in-depth knowledge of the problem and a willingness to take care of the individuals with mental health issues. Following the criteria for data collection, eight individuals living with mental health problems and five caregivers were purposively selected for this research. A semi-structured in-depth interview guide was used for the confidential data collection process, which took place in November and December 2021, and each interview lasted 40–50 min on average. This study used thematic analysis to present the results; the findings showed that: individuals afflicted with mental health problems sought both medical and spiritual support to recover. Those with mental health issues who received positive family support recovered relatively faster than those who did not. However, negative social perception and stigmatization were the key impediments for individuals suffering from mental health problems and their families, as they found it difficult to discuss their issues with relatives and communities when attempting to access support or seek remedies. Moreover, the commonality of social stigmas, such as labeling mental health problems as equal to ‘madness,’ hindered disclosure to family members, peers, and the community. In Bangladesh, the majority of individuals living with mental health problems are stigmatized and do not receive emotional support. Hence, we suggest nationwide community-based awareness-building programs to promote more positive perceptions of the fight against mental health disorders. Furthermore, counseling and awareness-building programs for effective discouragement of non-scientific remedies such as spiritual healing, as well as diagnosis and medication at the primary stage of sickness, are recommended for early detection and better medical assistance.