There’s a lot of emphasis on the importance of mental well-being these days. Mental health issues are common and affect over 50 million people in the United States. Despite the prevalence of mental health problems, there is a strong stigma surrounding mental illness that can negatively impact emotional health and even the ability to get treatment.

People who live with mental illness are often ashamed or afraid to talk about their issues or get help because they’re scared of being judged and stigmatized. They don’t want to be perceived as different, “crazy,” or incapable by their family, friends, or co-workers. The anxiety and fear of being judged can often exacerbate their issues, making their mental health worse. It’s a vicious cycle.

mental health

The two different stigmas surrounding mental health

Public stigma is the reaction that the general population typically has to mental illness. Self-stigma is the negative feelings that people with mental health issues have about their mental illness. Stereotypes, discrimination, and prejudice affect both types of stigma. There is a negative perception of mental illness that is often found in the media.

After hearing about a violent crime on the news, for example, although the criminal may have a mental illness, people tend to automatically label them “crazy,” which does a great disservice to those who live with mental health conditions every day. In addition, somebody with mental illness is statistically more likely to be the victim of a crime- not the perpetrator.

Self-stigma in people who live with mental illness looks like:

  • Feeling worthless and inferior because of their condition
  • Assuming people will think less of them if they find out about their mental health condition
  • Not wanting to go out and socialize for fear that they will put a damper on things

People with mental illness often think that they did something to cause it when in reality, mental health conditions can be caused by a combination of genetics, trauma, environmental factors.

How judging people can hinder their recovery

Despite the topic of mental health being more visible than ever, people are still afraid to talk about it, and not enough people get the help they need out of fear of asking for help. Society, in general, has perpetuated the stereotype that mentally ill people are dangerous, violent, and constantly unstable. This type of stigma and discrimination can exacerbate someone’s mental health issues and impede their getting treatment. In addition, it can cause isolation and avoidance, which can lead to a multitude of other psychological and physical problems.

The stigma of mental illness can make it difficult for someone to maintain healthy relationships. They may be afraid of opening up to people and end up pushing people away. On the other hand, many people who live with mental health issues find family and friends distancing themselves because they can’t deal. This can only elevate any feelings of anxiety or depression.

How to help break the stigma of mental illness

Many people try to hide their mental illness due to feelings of shame and fear of being judged.

One way to beat the stigma surrounding mental health is to be open-minded and non-judgemental when someone opens up about their mental health struggles.

Helping someone feel less alone can empower them to seek the treatment they need to live their best life.

The misconceptions about mental illness are prevalent. One of the best ways to break the stigma is to have an open and honest dialogue about mental health. This is starting to happen as many prominent celebrities are coming forward to share their experiences. Sharing these experiences can bring a massive shift in the attitudes toward mental illness. It’s essential to listen to people when they share their struggles and not judge them.

When people hide their mental health issues because they feel ashamed or afraid of being judged or criticized, they don’t receive the help they need, which can end up affecting their physical health.

If you’re struggling or someone you care about is experiencing symptoms of mental illness, encourage them to seek help. We have appointments available seven days a week through our telehealth platform so that you can speak to a therapist online from the comfort of your home. Call Serene Health at 844-737-3638 or visit us at www.serenehealth.com to schedule an appointment.