Primary Author: Marisa Valentino | Secondary Author: Sophia Barson LCSW
When we get physically injured and experience pain, we naturally ask for help or seek medical attention. This is not always the case for mental pain—those suffering from anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, and so on. Many people with mental illness hesitate to seek help. A study in the journal Psychology Medicine, which included over 90,000 people worldwide, shows that mental health stigma is a top reason people choose to forgo care.
What Is Stigma?
A stigma is a false negative attitude or belief about an individual or group based on certain attributes or particular characteristics. Stigma can lead to discrimination and prejudice.
What Is Mental Health Stigma?
Mental health stigma is when someone is viewed negatively because of their mental illness. This judgment typically comes from a lack of understanding and knowledge. It can be perpetuated by the media, culture, society, and personal beliefs.
Examples of harmful mental health stigma:
- Thinking people with depression are lazy.
- Believing individuals with anxiety are dramatic.
- The idea that those with OCD are neat freaks.
In reality, these stigmas are false and hurtful to those who have these mental health disorders.
What’s the Impact of Mental Health Stigma?
Mental health stigma has harmful consequences. According to the Mental Health Foundation, nearly nine out of 10 people with a mental illness said they are negatively affected by stigma. Stigma toward an individual with mental illness can worsen their psychiatric symptoms. It also discourages them from seeking help.
Other impacts of mental health stigma include:
- Decreased hope
- Diminished self-esteem
- Social isolation
- Harassment and bullying
- Lack of understanding by friends and family
How Can You Overcome Mental Health Stigma?
If you’re struggling with mental health stigma, know that you aren’t alone. One in four Americans has some kind of mental illness. Here are some things you can do to alleviate this stigma:
- If you’re struggling, own and respect your story without allowing others to change your mind. Practice being kind to yourself and those around you.
- Acceptance is challenging and takes time, be patient with yourself. Know that regardless of what stigma says, you are more than your illness.
- Give yourself credit for your talents, strengths, and goals. Reject the idea that mental illness is a sign of weakness and that you should be able to manage without help.
Be Aware of Your Word Choice.
- No one should be defined by their mental illness. Instead of saying, “I’m depressed,” say, “I have depression.” Doing so will encourage separating the person from the illness.
- It’s important to remember that mental health conditions are only one aspect of a person. People are multifaceted and not defined by only one part of themselves.
- Getting treatment for your condition is incredibly important. Don’t allow the fear of getting labeled with a mental illness to prevent you from getting help. Treatment is essential to reducing symptoms and improving your quality of life. It might be hard to ask for help, but it’s worthwhile.
- If you’re struggling with mental health and stigma, ReKlame Health is here to help. We embrace a holistic treatment approach so you can be the best version of yourself. Our young, culturally diverse clinicians provide the care, understanding, and professional guidance you need to heal. With ReKlame Health, you can transform your life. We’ll be there for you every step of the way.