Mental health is a crucial aspect of our overall well-being. Unfortunately, the stigma of mental health often prevents people from seeking the help they need. This stigma can manifest differently, from discriminatory language and attitudes to outright exclusion and discrimination. Despite the progress made in recent years, there is still a long way to go in breaking down the negative stereotypes and misconceptions surrounding mental illness. Fortunately, with increased education, awareness, and open conversations, overcoming the stigma associated with mental health issues and creating a more supportive and inclusive society is possible.
What is the Stigma of Mental Health Issues?
Mental health challenges affect millions of people worldwide each year. Still, mental health stigma can be a significant barrier for many seeking treatment. This stigma can cause deep feelings of isolation or even shame. To learn how to overcome the mental health stigma best, we must explore it and its causes.
The term “stigma” means a negative perception or attitude towards a specific group of people. Talking about the stigma of mental health or mental illness means the largely negative attitude or feelings toward people coping with cognitive challenges. These individuals may feel their mental health issues are their fault, which may keep them from seeking mental health treatment.
What Causes Stigma of Mental Health Issues?
There are many potential causes for the stigma of mental health, as well as why the stigma of mental health still exists. One of the biggest reasons is a significant lack of understanding and education about mental illness.
Many people incorrectly view mental health issues as a sign of weakness or something else means it’s the “fault” of the individual. They feel that people with a mental illness or co-occurring disorders can “snap out of it” or “knock it off,” which is not only factually incorrect but potentially dangerous to those experiencing mental health challenges.
There is another significant cause in the popular culture and media’s portrayal of those with mental health issues. Across countless movies, TV shows, and other productions, mental illness is commonly portrayed in a highly embellished manner, perpetuating stereotypes and reinforcing the stigma of mental illness.
How Do We Stop Stigmas From Happening?
Stopping the stigma of mental health is one of the most important things we can do for those struggling with mental health, substance use disorder, or even alcoholism in their daily life. This starts with awareness, education, and the crucial understanding that mental illness is not only real and valid, just like any other physical condition, but requires specialized care like any other injury or disorder. They aren’t choices or signs of personal weakness or failure. Here are some additional tips to help stop stigmas.
Words to Use and Not Use
One of the most significant ways we can impact the public’s perception of mental health issues is to communicate about them in ways that show we are respectful, empathetic, and free of judgment. Here are some helpful guidelines about how to communicate effectively regarding mental health:
Words to Use
- “Person with mental illness” instead of “mentally ill person”
- “Seeking treatment” instead of “getting help.”
- “Mental health condition” instead of “mental disorder”
- “Living with mental illness” instead of “suffering from mental illness.”
Words to Avoid
- Any similar terms that show disrespect for those people and their struggles
Recognizing that Treatments Work
Another vital component to helping overcome mental health stigma is recognizing that treatments for mental health challenges work. Those coping with mental health conditions can and often do recover with the right amount and type of treatment.
Some of the most common treatments for mental health conditions include therapy, which can be with a psychologist, or expressive therapies like art or music therapy, medication, and beneficial lifestyle changes. The most important thing to remember is to encourage those struggling with mental health issues to seek professional help and to provide appropriate support on their recovery journey.
Understanding Medications May Be Needed
One of the biggest stigmas surrounding mental health is the stigma surrounding medication. Medications and an effective medication management program can be highly effective in helping those with mental illnesses manage their conditions and symptoms. Unfortunately, many people follow the stigma associated with taking medication to help address mental health issues.
To some, being prescribed medication means they’re “crazy” or aren’t “strong enough” to manage their conditions independently, but this is far from the truth. This type of thinking can prevent people from getting the help they need. Any effective recovery must understand that being prescribed medication and taking it following the direction of the healthcare professional is no different than being prescribed medication for any other injury or condition.
How to Overcome the Stigma Associated with Mental Health Issues
Overcoming the stigma associated with mental health issues takes dedication and education. Here are some tips to help overcome stigmas:
Challenge harmful attitudes and beliefs about mental health any time you encounter them. Fight against discriminatory language, and help correct dangerous misconceptions about mental illness.
Educate Yourself & Others
Education is one of the biggest keys to overcoming mental health stigma. Educating yourself about mental health, symptoms, and treatments can help you more easily share this information with others. The more people know about mental health, the less powerful the stigma.
Support Those Struggling
A compelling way to help overcome the mental health stigma is to support those struggling with mental health issues. Encourage people to seek professional help and offer them resources to find that help.
Mental Health Help at Agape Treatment Center
If you or someone you know is facing mental health challenges and may be facing the stigma of mental health, it can be difficult to get help. Being supportive and gently encouraging them to reach a treatment center like Agape can make all the difference. Reach out today to discuss your treatment needs and begin on the path to recovery.