Overcoming the stigma of mental illness

Despite a growing openness about mental and behavioral health concerns across the United States, some stigma persists. Overcoming stigma and associated consequences start with education and learning.

stigma of mental illness

Mental Health in the United States

Mental health problems are among the most prevalent issues in the United States today. The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) estimates that more than one in five adults will experience mental health problems in 2020. One in 20 American adults was seriously affected by mental and behavioral disorders, including anxiety and depression.

The coronavirus pandemic brought mental health to the forefront of the national conversation. More Americans than ever before opened up about their mental health struggles. Despite the growing trend toward acceptance of mental health concerns, some stigma remains around those illnesses and those who suffer from them. 

Persistent stigma has kept countless Americans from seeking help for their condition. Overcoming stigma and prejudice concerning mental health concerns is not only crucial for sufferers. Breaking down stigma can prove life-changing for family members, friends, and other loved ones of those suffering. 

How to Overcome Mental Health Stigma

Mental illness and the stigma surrounding common conditions like anxiety or post-traumatic stress disorder can affect people of all ages and ethnic and social backgrounds. People who feel stigmatized for suffering from mental health challenges may believe they are being judged for their condition. Stigma can cause serious harm to people living with mental illness as it can prevent them from seeking help. 

Overcoming stigma is the key to recovery for many of those dealing with mental and behavioral health concerns. Patients, their families, and friends have several ways of helping fight mental health stigma:

  • Learning more about mental illness
  • Carefully choosing their language around mental health conditions
  • Refusing to submit to stigma
  • Getting treatment for the condition

Learn More About Mental Illness

Much of the stigma surrounding mental and behavioral health problems stem from a lack of knowledge. Like physical illnesses, mental health disorders can be caused and influenced by several physical and psychological factors. 

They are medical issues that can be treated with medication and psychotherapy. It is a common misperception that someone with depression could snap out of their condition. Learning more about a given situation and its potential causes helps those suffering from it and their loved ones. 

Having factual information also allows people to talk knowledgeably about their condition and explain their situation to others. 

Carefully Choosing Language Around Mental Health

Language is powerful. This applies to those who have mental illness and people in their environment. Calling a healthy person crazy can be funny. But it can be seriously detrimental to someone with a mental illness. At the same time, patients referring to themselves as being bipolar or calling themselves depressed may contribute to the negative feelings surrounding their condition. 

Consider your language around mental health conditions carefully. It can help break down the differences between physical and mental illness. Thinking of a mental health patient as someone suffering from depression rather than being depressed is one way of aligning mental health challenges with physical conditions. 

Refusing to Submit to Stigma

Many mental health sufferers perceive their condition as a sign of personal weakness or failure. They may engage in negative thinking patterns, which will not help their condition. It may worsen their symptoms and delay treatment. 

Refusing to submit to stigma, whether one’s own or that expressed by others, allows people suffering from mental health problems to change their thought patterns. It can be the first step toward regaining self-esteem and developing positive thinking habits. Education is often the key to overturning detrimental and destructive ways of thinking. 

Getting Professional Treatment for the Condition

The stigma surrounding mental and behavioral health conditions is one of the main reasons people delay treatment. As a result, their mental health condition may become severe or even chronic. The more extended mental health conditions are left untreated, the harder it may be to recover from them. 

Seeking professional treatment allows patients to recover from their condition and develop long-term coping strategies that help prevent problems from reoccurring. One of the most effective forms of treatment for mental and behavioral health concerns is counseling. 

Counseling is a talk therapy that starts by assessing the causes of a person’s mental and behavioral health challenges. Counseling sessions can be practical on their own or combined with other treatments, including medication. 

Having identified the root causes of a person’s mental health condition, counselors work with their patients to create a path to recovery. In many cases, this includes breaking negative patterns of thought and behavior and replacing them with more constructive alternatives. 

Finding Help 

Professional help for mental health conditions is available online and offline. Platforms like TrueCare provide easy access to a nationwide network of qualified, licensed, and experienced counselors. This extensive network makes it easy for those suffering from mental health disorders to find a suitable counselor. It also allows family members, friends, and other loved ones to learn more about the respective condition. 

As a result, the stigma surrounding these conditions is being broken down gradually, avoiding discrimination and enabling recovery. 

About TrueCare™

TrueCare™ is a nationwide Health & Wellness platform for families and businesses providing end-to-end solutions for COVID-19 testing, screening, vaccination, home care, and corporate well-being services.