Mental Health Stigma in Brief
A person’s mental health affects their thinking, emotions, and actions. Solid mental health allows us to deal with day-to-day challenges and stressful situations. People with poor mental health tend to make unhealthy choices that affect their lives.
High-quality mental health care is becoming more widely available throughout the United States. Moreover, the challenges caused by the coronavirus pandemic have led to a more open discussion of what mental health means and how it can be maintained. Still, a stigma around those conditions remains across comprehensive sections of society. This stigma limits the ability of those with mental health conditions to heal and recover.
Mental Health in the United States
Mental health conditions are among the most common illnesses in the United States. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have published research that states more than 50% of all Americans will be affected during their lifetime. They will suffer from a mental illness or disorder at some point.
Around 20% of Americans experience mental illness yearly, and 4% live with severe mental health conditions, including major depression. Medical experts believe that mental health conditions are becoming more prevalent throughout the country and worldwide.
Still, the American Psychiatric Association (APA) believes that only about half of those suffering from mental health conditions receive the help and support they need. The APA puts this delay or lack of treatment down to the stigma still attached to mental health conditions and asking for help.
How Stigma Affects Those Suffering from Mental Health Conditions
Despite a broader conversation about mental health and increased support availability, stigma surrounds these illnesses.
At its base, a stigma is a negative social attitude toward a person or a group. The mood is often unfair and places shame on the target of the belief. Stigmas have been applied to people because of their lifestyle choices or suffering from specific health problems, including mental health conditions.
According to the APA, researchers distinguish between three common forms of stigma:
- Self-stigma relates to a person’s negative attitudes toward their condition. Many of those who have mental illness feel shame, for example.
- Public stigma includes the attitudes of others toward someone with a mental health condition. Friends limiting contact with someone suffering from those disorders would fall into this category.
- Institutional stigma is another category. Originating from government agencies or employers, this type of stigma could unintentionally limit opportunities for those with mental health conditions.
Stigma reaches further than the individual who is suffering from the condition. It is often extended to family members and even further. Leading mental health experts believe that stigma or the fear of stigma is deterring people suffering from mental health challenges from seeking help.
As a result, mental health conditions remain untreated.
At the same time, the lives of those living with such diseases, as well as the lives of their families and loved ones, can be seriously threatened.
Major depression, for instance, can lead to suicidal ideation and even suicide if left untreated. It is safe to say that this mental health condition can destroy lives unnecessarily, even though several effective treatment options exist.
Public stigma and self-stigma prevent Americans from accessing the mental health care and support they need. Without help, their condition may become more severe, eventually limiting their personal and professional lives. Some mental health conditions can become so intense that sufferers can no longer leave their homes.
With support widely available, stigma is one of the leading causes that prevent recoveries and limit people’s quality of life. Overcoming stigma is critical to creating a path to recovery.
How Counseling Services Can Help
Counseling is one of the most popular forms of psychotherapy, widely known as one of the most effective treatments for mental illness.
As a type of talk therapy, counseling generally involves one-on-one meetings between a mental health professional and their client. During counseling sessions, counselors work with their clients to find the condition’s root causes and start addressing those.
In many cases, understanding what causes a person to experience symptoms of mental illness is critical to addressing the condition. Treatment can vary widely between patients, so it is essential to select a cognitive and behavioral health care provider that can offer flexibility.
TrueCare’s approach to behavioral health counseling is both unique and adaptive. The platform gives clients access to a nationwide network of highly experienced and fully licensed mental health care professionals.
Those counselors offer mental health support in different forms that make access easy and convenient. Online and in-person counseling sessions can be organized flexibly and discreetly at a time and place to suit the client.
Breaking down the barriers to access to mental health care and making it normal to ask for help may take some time. But it is essential to start minimizing the stigma surrounding these illnesses and increase the percentage of sufferers receiving support. Missing out on mental health support due to stigma is unacceptable and unnecessary.