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Overcoming The Stigma of Mental Illness

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The Mental Health Stigma

While society has been placing emphasis on providing education and awareness on mental illness, there still is a stigma that is placed upon those that are struggling with a mental health disorder. These stigmas tend to place feelings of shame on those who are living with mental illness including depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, or bipolar disorder. While the symptoms of these illnesses are real and debilitating for many, there is often pressure from loved ones and friends for individuals to push past those symptoms and maintain a regular day-to-day living. However, what many don’t understand is the gravity of these symptoms significantly impacts a person’s ability to function making even the smallest tasks seem difficult. 

The stigmas of mental illness are often developed from stereotypes about certain mental health disorders that are derived from negative perceptions and assumptions. These stereotypes are developed from generalized beliefs or representations of a group of people that are based on singular experiences or a few characteristics that are then used to define the person as a whole. Common stigmas associated with mental illness are individuals living with depression are lazy or those living with bipolar are crazy.  When in reality, those struggling with depression are experiencing a severe lack of energy or motivation due to mental illness but still maintain a desire or drive to want to do things or someone with bipolar is struggling to find the right medicine to help balance the neurotransmitters within the brain that help to promote balance and mental health clarity and wellbeing. It is important to remember that stigmas are often based on untruths stemming from negative perceptions. Each individual living with mental health disorders has their own unique circumstances that have impacted your ability to maintain optimal mental health functioning. No one chooses to live with a mental illness and those impacted by mental health disorders are searching for ways to stabilize their thoughts and emotions to be able to proceed through each day feeling stable and healthy. Approaching mental illness with compassion and understanding will help to open up communication and education about the impacts while reducing the impacts of the societal stigma placed upon living with mental health disorders.

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The Effects of Mental Health Stigma

The unfortunate truth about mental health stigma is the impact that it can have on a person and their ability to reach out for help when they need it. When you are placed under pressure from society that your mental illness is your fault or that you should be able to overcome your symptoms of mental illness on your own, it can be hard to speak up when you are struggling the most with your presenting symptoms of mental illness. This often leaves many attempting to manage mental illness on their own leaving symptoms to worsen posing a significant risk to a person’s overall health and well-being. 

Hearing the negative stigmatization of mental illness and the symptoms presenting themselves can create feelings of isolation and distance from loved ones. This often leaves individuals feeling as though they are alone in their battle with mental illness and struggling to reach out for help to their loved ones. As symptoms and side effects of mental illness progress, many will develop feelings of low self-worth or hopelessness that their mental state and illness will improve. This can become dangerous for many and lead to an increase in suicidal ideation or behaviors. 

In some cases, individuals living with a mental health disorder can impact a person’s employment or status within the workplace. While employers will often state that their workplace is an inclusive space, the unfortunate truth is that mental health stigma has been known to significantly impact a person’s employment in some instances. There have been cases where employers have been made privy to the fact or have noticed the onset of symptoms of mental health that then create questions about the individual’s ability to maintain work commitments or tasks. Or individuals begin to feel the onset of worsening symptoms from mental illness and find that they are unable to maintain the heavy workloads as they struggle to cope with debilitating symptoms. Individuals face loss of employment or an inability to be offered promotions within their companies due to the mental health stigma. When in fact, what could be needed the most is for employers and employees to be provided with strategies on how to effectively cope with mental health or provide employees with the time needed to seek support from mental health practitioners to be able to find stability within mental health functioning. 

How To Overcome The Mental Health Stigma

Research has shown that the best way to overcome mental health stigma is to provide opportunities for education and awareness to the public as most stigmas are rooted in misplaced fear and misunderstanding of mental illness. Gaining an understanding of mental health diagnosis including the root causes and changes within brain chemicals and functioning and how these disruptions in cognitive and emotional functioning change a person’s ability to function and respond to day to day occurrences. Hearing first-hand stories from individuals that are living with mental health conditions and behavioral health disorders provide a personalized touch that allows the public to hear and learn firsthand the experiences that those living with mental illness face day to day. As you get to know a person’s story and personal experiences, it allows you to feel closer to the person and reduce the fear while making the person and situation become relatable and real. 

Mental Illness Awareness Week

One way that the National Alliance on Mental Health strives to combat mental health stigma and reduce discrimination and misunderstanding is by hosting mental illness awareness week. Having a week dedicated to providing education and awareness to Americans about the impact of mental health disorders on those that are living with them. Mental health advocates across the nation host forums and events that help to provide resources and education about specific mental health disorders and how best to support those impacted by mental illness. Bringing a voice to the often unspoken struggles with mental illness helps to reduce biases and myths and allows the opportunity to make mental health a more relatable and less taboo subject. Mental illness awareness week sheds light on the fact that there are 1 in 5 American adults that are living with a mental health disorder and helps individuals realize that it can happen to anyone allowing for compassion and understanding for those impacted by mental illness. 

Addiction and Mental Illness Treatment at Resurgence Behavioral Health

At Resurgence Behavioral Health, patients are provided with individualized treatment plans that are centered around healing from substance use disorders and addressing any presenting mental health concerns. Our comprehensive treatment model offers patients opportunities to engage in evidence-based therapy methods including dual diagnosis treatment that will support you in healing from the underlying causes of your substance use disorders while developing the tools to manage your mental health disorders through natural, holistic treatments, and approaches. Contact Resurgence today to hear more about the individualized treatment plan that our team can create for you that will support you in stabilizing your mental health and living a healthy, balanced life in addiction recovery. 

Addiction Treatment that
Just Works

Individualized treatment programs delivered in a comfortable, relaxed setting promote healing in your recovery journey.

Alexa Iocco

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