Suffering from a mental health condition is hard. Unfortunately, the stigma that is often associated with it can make it even harder. Individuals with mental illnesses are often portrayed in movies and television as extremely dangerous, violent, or unstable which can result in misinformation to those around us. Words like “crazy” and “psycho” are painful and perpetuate the unnecessary stigma. Far too often this type of stigma serves as a barrier to reaching out for necessary support.
First, recognize that seeking help is not a sign of personal weakness. Professional counseling provides support so that you don’t have to do it all alone. Second, try to release the fear of being “labeled.” Sometimes people are afraid to acknowledge having a condition that needs treatment. However, identifying what’s wrong can provide relief and result in a specific treatment plan to reduce troubling symptoms. If it’s determined that you are suffering from a mental health condition you may be hesitant to share this information with others. Remember, judgment from others may be based on misinformation. Sharing your diagnosis with those you trust may help educate those around you and help to reduce the overall stigma.
Some recent studies suggest the stigma associated with mental illness may be decreasing as evidenced by an increase in the public acceptance of antidepressants. However, it’s important to remember that study after study shows that drug treatment is most effective when combined with talk therapy. Medication can be helpful in treating the chemicals in our brains, but humans are made up of more than just chemicals. We are emotional beings and often times our feelings and emotions demand our attention.
Overcoming stigma and accepting professional help can be challenging, but it may be just the thing to empower you to take back control of your life.
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