Is Mental Health Stigma Getting In The Way Of Your Life?
Are you standing in your own way of getting the help that you want and need to feel better and be the best you can be? We often want to blame others for things. However, the choice to not take action and get help may not be the fault of anyone but you.
Every day we tell each other: “tell someone” and “ask for help.” When our children have issues at school or with friends we ask, “did you tell anyone?” But do we really mean it? Do we as a society really want to get better? If you believe that we as a community, or on a larger scale, as a society truly want to get better then why is there still a stigma towards mental health and mental health services?
There are attitudes and assumptions made about mental illness and going to therapy. There are both social stigmas and assumptions as well as perceived or personal stigmas and assumptions made about mental health, both of which are hindering people’s ability to become better and healthier. The social stigmas are often coming from people who truly have no idea what therapy and mental health are really about. We all know that ignorance can often lead to discrimination and fear, which is sad. People with mental health issues are not all “crazy” or “dangerous.” This is a misperception and assumption that has been fueled by negative media and people who are looking for someone or something to blame.
Personal stigmas are those that people feel about themselves which are usually laced with shame, self defeat and personal fear. Often a personal stigma is the one that you hear in your own voice in which the message that asking for help or letting someone help is a sign of weakness. Or many other things that you are potentially telling yourself about mental health services. (FYI not everyone in therapy is on medication, to negate that message you are telling yourself too.)
The truth is that it often takes courage and bravery to admit that there is a problem. It takes courage to begin confronting the issue and the pain the suffering and to make changes. The people that walk into my office are often the strongest people I could meet, because they are admitting there is an issue and they want to make a change in their life. This is true with couples who want to improve their relationships, addicts who want to be sober and children who want to stop feeling sad. So are you getting in your own way? Be Brave.
CARRIE NICKLES, LPC, IS A FORMER COUNSELOR WITH OZARK GUIDANCE AND IS SEEING PATIENTS TUESDAYS AND THURSDAYS AT PRAIRIE GROVE HEALTH AND WELLNESS CENTER.
“The people that walk into my office are often the strongest people I could meet, because they are admitting there is an issue and they want to make a change in their life.”