Stigma towards mental health disorders is ever-present in society today. When it comes to people understanding mental illnesses, many people are misinformed and often not properly educated on the subject. Unfortunately, this means that, due to lack of proper information, there are still many misconceptions about people with mental illnesses that fuel negative stereotypes. These stereotypes ultimately keep many who suffer from mental health disorders from speaking out about their troubles and seeking treatment for their condition.
Stigmas towards mental health disorders have some harmful effects such as:
Hesitancy to seek treatment
Misunderstanding among family and friends
Bullying and harassment at school or in the workplace
Feelings of inadequacy
Feeling of being less capable of succeeding
Fewer opportunities for work and/or social activities
Stigmatization can also lead to discrimination if it is not intercepted and corrected. It sometimes may be as subtle as a hurtful remark about a family member’s condition or even keeping a more watchful eye on someone just because one thinks that they are unstable. When dealing with stigma, it’s imperative for patients suffering from mental health disorders to know that they deserve the same compassion and kindness as anyone else.
Coping with stigma
Here are a few steps individuals can take to better cope with the issues of stigma:
Do not feel shame or self-doubt: Issues regarding stigma do not just come from others. People with mental illnesses may doubt themselves and view their mental condition as a weakness, which they feel they should be able to control on their own. This belief is far from the truth. Mental health disorders are deep-rooted and complex conditions and beyond one’s own willpower to change.
Seek treatment: Mental health disorders require detailed attention and can be most effectively treated through individualized mental health treatment. Treatment can include inpatient treatment, individual therapy sessions, psychiatric visits and group therapy. Mental health treatment also helps individuals become more educated on their conditions and, in turn, more self-aware of their behavior. This understanding helps people take conscious steps to correct harmful habits and develop better coping skills.
Join a mental health support group: Some groups like the National Alliance on Mental Health (NAMI) offer resources such as local programs and online material to help spread awareness and educate those with mental health conditions and their loved ones about problems that those with disorders face on a daily basis.
Avoid isolation: One should not be afraid to speak up about his or her mental illness. Asking for help is sometimes the hardest step to take, but it is needed if one seeks true and effective treatment for their condition. Those suffering from mental illness should speak to family and friends about the condition and possible options of treatment.
Seek help through local institutions: Teachers on a secondary and college level are required to offer students special options to accommodate their specific needs when they are dealing with a mental health disorder. It is important to let a teacher know about one’s disability and discuss what accommodations one may need.
Use positive self-talk: Practicing self-compassion is imperative to recovery from mental illnesses. A series of studies have been conducted to research the link between self-compassion, happiness and practicing constructive behaviors. All studies showed that people who showed high levels of self-compassion were less depressed, visited their doctors more frequently, did not get down on themselves for having a mental illness as much, and treated themselves better.
Stigmatization often stems from misconceptions about mental illness and shouldn’t be taken personally. Seeking treatment, learning about the mental health condition and how to most effectively treat the disorder is never an easy path to follow but it is essential when dealing with a mental illness.
Mental health disorders are complex conditions that often require specialized treatment. Sovereign Health Group is among the leading mental health treatment centers in the country and offers numerous inpatient and outpatient treatment programs for those struggling with mental health disorders, drug and alcohol addiction and dual diagnosis. If someone you know is struggling with a mental illness and is in need of mental health treatment, please contact us at through online chat or by phone 888-530-4614 to speak to a member of our team.
Written by Benjamin Creekmore, Sovereign Health Group writer