Have you ever felt confused and lethargic when someone tells you that you're just being lazy?
Have you ever been anxious, and someone tells you to just stop worrying?
Have you ever been labeled depressed, bipolar, or psycho?
Have you ever been told your emotions were a phase? That if you tried harder, it would improve?
This is sadly what a lot of people with mental health conditions are experiencing. Unfortunately, negative attitudes and beliefs toward people who have mental health conditions are common. Although the general perception of mental illness has improved in recent years, according to studies, the stigma against those with mental illness and the need to seek help through counseling is still powerful.
Let's first dive into what "stigma" means.
It is defined as “a mark of shame, disgrace or disapproval which results in an individual being rejected, discriminated against and excluded from participating in a number of different areas of society” by the World Health Organisation, stigma simply marks an individual as different in a negative way.
This can lead to discrimination and discrimination can be obvious or not so obvious.
Discrimination may be obvious and direct, such as someone making a negative remark about your mental illness or your treatment. It may also be unintentional or subtle, such as someone avoiding you because the person assumes you could be unstable, violent or dangerous due to your mental illness.
The worse part is that you may even judge yourself.
Personal Stigma. An individual’s stigmatizing attitudes and beliefs, e.g. people with anxiety could easily just stop worrying.
Perceived Stigma. An individual’s attitude and belief of the stigmatizing views of others, e.g. most people believe that people with anxiety could easily stop worrying.
Self-stigma. An individual’s attitude and belief about themselves, e.g. It should be easy for me to just stop worrying.
Structural Stigma. Policies of our government and the cultural norms around mental illness, e.g. mental health don’t deserve as much attention as other illnesses as it is self-inflicted.
What steps can we take to end the stigma around mental health and mental health counseling?
Here are a few of them. ☀️
The stigma around mental health and seeking help cause people to feel ashamed for something that is out of their control. Worst of all, this stigma prevents people from seeking the help they need. We can contribute in our own simple ways in order to fight mental health stigma.