Part 1: Combatting The Stigma Around Mental Illness
According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), 1 in 5 adults in the U.S. have a mental health problem, and 24.7 % of those with mental illnesses have unmet treatment needs. Something that affects your thinking, feeling or mood is referred to as a mental health condition. It presents differently in different people, even those with the same disease, and it can change over time as a result of factors like workload, stress, and work-life balance.
With 20 percent of adults in the United States suffering from mental illness, chances are you know someone who is affected. You can also find comfort knowing you are not alone if you are dealing with mental health issues.
Even with this statistic in mind, it’s difficult to completely appreciate the reality and frequency of mental health conditions because they’ve been stigmatized in our society for so long. When someone has an unfavorable opinion of you because you have a characteristic or personal attribute that is seen to be, or actually is a disadvantage, this is known as a stigma. Negative attitudes and views against people with mental illnesses are unfortunately frequent.
Stigma can lead to discrimination which can be obvious or direct (a negative remark about your mental illness or treatment) or unintentional and subtle (avoidance or making assumptions). You might even pass judgment on yourself.
Experiencing a mental health condition is hard enough, but stigma and discrimination prevent many people from getting the support they need. People fear a very real threat of judgment, shame, and isolation. As a result, avoiding sharing their stories or seeking help for mental health care makes it more difficult to build or maintain relationships when they are needed most.
Although the COVID pandemic has been difficult, its mental toll has allowed for increased transparency and empathy in the area of mental health. Even with these improvements, even more openness is needed.
If you’re struggling with your mental health, you’re not alone. If you have concerns about your mental health, please contact your primary care provider or mental health professional.