How to Overcome the Stigma of Mental Illness...
Updated: May 28, 2021
The stigma associated with mental illness is a serious issue that needs addressing. Often, people with mental illness don’t get the treatment they need because they are too ashamed of their condition.
However, addressing the stigma and educating ourselves and others about mental health can make a difference and improve the lives of millions of people.
What is Mental Health Stigma?
Stigma derives from Ancient Greek, where it was used to refer to a tattoo that was burnt or cut on criminals’ or slaves’ skin. Nowadays, the word is used to refer to the discrimination and prejudice against a person with distinct characteristics or attributes. These characteristics include mental illness, disability, cultural background, and even socioeconomic class among others. Moreover, stigma can also be against oneself, often leading to hurtful results.
The Effects of Stigma on an Individual
People with mental illness frequently find that the stigma associated withmental health can worsen their condition. Some people might go as far as to avoid getting the treatment they need. Some of the other negative effects of stigma with people struggling with mental illness are:
· Feelings of self-doubt and shame,
· Lack of communication with their friends and family,
· Missing out on various opportunities.
5 Ways to Overcoming Mental Health Stigma
Overcoming mental health stigma is a challenge. However, with constant effort and dedication, you can cope with your mental illness and focus on getting better.
#1 Get the Treatment You Need
The fearandshame that stigma is causing to a person dealing with mental illness, can stop him from seeking out treatment. You shouldn’t allow these feelings prevent you from receiving all the help you need.
#2 Talk Openly About Mental Health
A commoneffect of mental health stigma is the isolation of people coping with mental illness. However, being open about your condition will encourage others to speak up and educate the people around you.
#3 Join a Support Group
Acceptance is necessary for overcoming stigma. Yet, it is a challenging process. By joining a support group, you will associate with people facing their own struggles. Together you can learn how to accept your mental illness. The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) and the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) offer support for people struggling with mental illness.
#4 Don’t Let Mental Illness Define Your Identity
An importantthing that you need to remember is that your mental illness doesn’t define your identity. You have multiple facets that characterize you. Moreover, try using different words when describing your condition. Many people often say they are schizophrenic. Instead of this, however, you can say you have schizophrenia. Just this simple change is enough to stress out that you are not defined by your condition.
#5 Don’t Exclude Your Loved Ones from Your Life
When you are struggling with mental illness, it is essential to get love and support from the people around you. Don’t exclude your friends and family that can offer you the understanding and compassion you need.
Overcoming mental health stigma is a journey that requires a lot of effort. However, seeking treatment and educating yourself and others, can have a positive effect on you.
AMANDA KOPP, Psychologist