Overcoming Mental Health Stigma

Here is what you can do if you are dealing with stigma of mental health:

Get treatment. It is always difficult to admit that you have a condition that needs treatment. Don’t let the fear of being “labeled” with a mental illness prevent you from seeking help. Treatment can provide relief by determining clinical diagnosis and available treatment options.

Don’t let stigma create self-doubt and shame. There is an old-fashioned belief mental health issues are a signs of personal weakness, or that a person should be able to control it without help. This belief not only outdated and incorrect but also dangerous. Accepting help from others, seeking psychological counseling, educating yourself about your condition can help you gain self-esteem and overcome destructive self-judgment.

Don’t isolate yourself. If you have a mental illness, you may be reluctant to tell anyone about it. Have the courage to confide in your spouse, family members, friends, clergy or other members of your community. Reach out to people you trust for the compassion, support and understanding you need.

Don’t equate yourself with your illness. Instead of saying “I’m bipolar,” say “I have bipolar disorder”. Instead of calling yourself “a schizophrenic”, call yourself “a person with schizophrenia”. Don’t say you “are depressed”, say you “have clinical depression”.

 Get help at school. If you or your child has a mental illness that affects learning, find out what plans and programs might help. Talk to teachers, professors or administrators about the best approach and available resources. If a teacher doesn’t know about a student’s disability, it can lead to discrimination, barriers to learning and poor grades.

Unfortunately, stigma is a commonly experienced by people who have a mental health condition. Do not let stigma and possible negative remarks from others stand between you and the road  to your mental well-being.

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