We live in a society in which we are constantly judged on the basis of our choices, lifestyle, career path, dressing, speaking, mannerisms and a lot more.
Ironically speaking, in recent years our traditional and cultural values have also witnessed a paradigm shift.
If we go by the holy grail of all the answers “Wikipedia” we will understand that societal stigma is the disapproval of, or discrimination against, a person based on perceivable social characteristics that serve to distinguish them from other members of society.
People are used, things are cherished.
Hearts are broken, the ego is pampered.
Pain is hidden behind the “Smiling” face mask.
Abusiveness found new ways to harass innocent minds
Physical, Emotional and now Mental Health dominates one’s sanity.
Apart from all this, I would like to quote few societal stigmas which are ironical to its belief system and a prominent cause to rising Mental Stress but first of all let us understand Mental Health Stigma and it’s types.
What is Mental Health Stigma?
Social stigmas are commonly related to culture, gender, race, intelligence, and health and it causes an individual to be mentally classified by others in an undesirable, rejected stereotype rather than in an accepted, normal one.
Mental health stigma can be divided into two distinct types:
Social Stigma, characterized by prejudicial attitudes and discriminating behavior directed towards individuals with mental health problems as a result of the psychiatric label they have been given.
Self Stigma, the internalizing by the mental health sufferer of their perceptions of discrimination (Link, Cullen, Struening & Shrout, 1989), and perceived stigma can significantly affect feelings of shame and lead to poorer treatment outcomes (Perlick, Rosenheck, Clarkin, Sirey, et al., 2001). (Source: Psychology Today)
Without going into more technicalities, I will list down few society laden, ill-mind crafted culprits successfully ruining dreams and desires of many individuals and stopping them to come out of their inhibitions and face the world the way they are.
Education and Competition
It is like a rat race and everybody wants to win. Kids are being trained for higher aspirations mixed with much higher expectations, resulting in stress, in kids.
Not every kid is the same and their adapting power, observational skills, learning, and development skill cannot be measured with another outperforming kid.
It is us, the parents who instill the fear of losing the race in them, we want them to compete and even before understanding the meaning of participation the kid feels dejected as he could score a position.
More than a Professional coach, our kids need is an Emotional Coach who can make them life ready and teach them to fight their fears and overcome them.
Art as a career
If we go by statistics in the real world, people we come across in our daily lives we will learn one thing for sure, 60% of them are not enjoying what they are doing in their career.
The path they are following is simply because they have to earn a living and they could not pursue their passion. We have mainly been discouraged from pursuing non-stem careers because there is a negative stigma against those who study the arts and those who pursue stem careers like technology, science, engineering or management.
It is perceived to be a less notable career choice in terms of the degree, opportunity and society pressure. A doctor’s son has to be a doctor or an engineer’s son has to be an IIT or equivalent.
What if he is good in canvassing the unlimited possibilities of rainbows with his bare fingertips? What if we have a greatly skilled artist amongst us but his/her talent is left unrecognized because they could not fit the societal bill of a perfect candidature.
In the second inning of our life, when we have seen a lot and been through a few major ups and downs we do realize that we have been rooting at the wrong place but many few have the liberty of going after following their passion and trust me it leaves one with an everlasting grief which cannot be undone.
Speak in English! Are we born with it? The English Language became a status quo for the Indian parents in no time and I see parents poking their kid all the time to speak in English, I am not against speaking or learning English it but I am very much against the entire thought process of speaking English over any other language officially spoken in India and belittling the ones who cannot speak English.
Speaking English is like a verbal Lamborghini to many people which they drive so fast in front of the poor native language speaking people who cannot be a part of their race for two reasons at least. Firstly, they might be not privileged to get educated in a convent or high English speaking school or secondly maybe they were not born and bought up in such an environment where speaking English was given stress on.
Color and Body Shaming
I have spoken a lot about it and yet I am writing about this topic here again because as I find myself moving towards higher technological advancements, scientific researches, human behavioral theories and I find myself living in a parallel world where people do give a shit about the color and the body weight of another person.
Who set the metrics? Where is the benchmark? A girl would try anything and everything to look a skin fairer, a guy would go on hunger strike or unnecessary body stress to pull down that unwanted wanted weight but trust me, the more you say the more it hurts.
In our society, we live among such people, who, if given liberty would leave no page unturned to make your life living hell when it comes to our outer appearances.
Staying fit and provocative is always a good idea but criticizing or shaming someone else for not being that “perfect individual” is yet another major cause of rising Mental Illness in many individuals around us.
Do not go by the society standardized rules, define your own rules, dig what works best for you and follow your heart.
Also read: Social Media Handles and Mental Health
In the end, I would say, our life should not be measured by the degrees we hold, how fluent English we speak, our branded clothes, our lifestyle but by the few smiling faces when they hear our name.
Much love and gratitude