By ABCS RCM
Mental health treatments from an experienced behavioral health professional is a powerful tool for treating mental illnesses. Yet, for some people, certain level of shame or stigma still lingers around this illness. Even for a behavioral health condition like depression, which is a more common, there is a general lack of understanding and social stigma.
What is a Stigma?
A mental health stigma is when people or society view individuals in a negative way because of their mental health condition. Some people describe a stigma as feelings of shame or judgement that are projected at particular persons. Individuals can even project a stigma at themselves and have internalized feelings of shame and embarrassment. Living with a mental health condition is a challenge. The isolation, guilt and secrecy that is associated with a stigma only creates additional challenges.
According to data from the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA), roughly 16.1 million (6.7%) adults in the United States are considered depressed (major depressive disorder). It is for this reason that misunderstandings and lingering stigmas about behavioral health therapy are dangerous. People who are suffering from this condition are either too ashamed or embarrassed to seek professional help. This fact is troubling due to the fact that depression is a complex condition by itself. Adding the stigma inspired shame and discrimination can encourage some people to actually hide their symptoms and behave as a person with high-functioning depression.
Educating society about mental health conditions is the first step in minimizing the influence of stigma.
How to Minimize a Stigma?
People experiencing mental health conditions sometimes face judgement, anger and discrimination. People who are impacted by a mental health stigma need to learn how to avoid and address these negative feelings. People with mental health conditions should not project these destructive feelings of shame upon themselves. Once individuals are able to accomplish this task, their ability to recovery is easier. The first step in fighting a stigma is not to have one for yourself. The overall goal is not to hide from the world in shame, but to become a productive member of society.
Proper education provides valuable information to people so they can make better informed decisions about mental illnesses. Research suggest that when people have a better understanding of mental illness, they are less likely to endorse the negative emotions that are connected to this stigma. In this way, proper information about mental illness seems to lessen negative stereotypes.
The stigma that surrounds mental health is a complex and directly affects people with mental illness, as well as their family, friends and local community. When more people understand this stigma, it is easier to reduce the negative impact on individuals with mental health conditions. For people who suffer from mental health conditions, any reduction in the social stigma that surrounds these conditions will help. National organizations like the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) are a good place to gather information about the complex topic of behavioral health and stigmas.
Seeking Professional Help:
A major hurdle for individuals is the act of reaching out to a mental health professional in order to obtain the needed support. The stigma that sometimes surrounds mental health can create shame and fear which may prevent people from seeking treatment. However, people should not let fear stop them.
When people are living with mental health conditions, they are often afraid to discuss this condition. They may be afraid that it will affect their lives and livelihoods. Unfortunately, the less this topic is talked about, the more difficult it is to humanize and normalize mental health issues. Through open and honest discussions, society can stop the cycle of stigma, prejudice, and discrimination.
Who We Are:
For questions about the social stigma that can sometimes accompany mental health treatments, contact us. At Providers For Healthy Living, we have been delivering mental health services since 2011. As an experienced mental health provider, we strive to have every patient feel more hopeful after interacting with a member of our staff. Our practice was built on the values of quality, hope and personal responsibility.
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