The only way to overcome mental health stigma is to first acknowledge that it exists. Many people overlook the stigma of mental illness and are oblivious to the consequences that accompany it. Their lack of education leaves those suffering from mental health issues to suffer.
In this article, we discuss the consequences of the stigma around mental health. You will also learn about the necessary steps toward reducing mental health stigma. Continue reading to become an advocate for mental health.
Consequences of Mental Health Stigma
People suffer at the hands of mental health stigma. This suffering comes in many forms and negatively impacts their ability to get the help and support they need. However, in order to truly overcome this stigma of mental illness, we need to understand the consequences.
Hesitation to Seek Treatment
Those suffering from mental illness don’t want to be labeled as ‘the weird kid,’ or, ‘that kid with the mental illness,’ so more than half don’t seek treatment. They experience shame and embarrassment for something they have no control over. Instead of using resources such as this guide to learn about how treatment can help, they keep it to themselves and suffer in silence.
The stigma of mental illness makes people hesitant to seek treatment and even acknowledge they are suffering. They don’t receive the coping mechanisms or medications they need. This can lead to the development of even more severe symptoms of mental illness.
Self Esteem Issues
Even as people understand the mechanics and nature of mental illness, they still tend to view it negatively. Those without mental health issues view those suffering from mental illness as inadequate. They often blame them for their struggles.
This leads those suffering to internalize this perspective. They begin to see themselves as inadequate and undeserving of basic respect. For this reason, people suffering from mental illness often experience low self-esteem.
Feeling Socially Isolated
Even though 20.6% of adults in the United States reported suffering from a mental illness in 2019, the stigma around mental health leaves people feeling socially isolated. They don’t feel that they will be supported or understood by those around them. In the worst cases, people are even bullied for their struggle with their mental health.
Fewer Job Prospects
The stigma of mental illness affects the job prospects of those suffering from mental health issues. The stigma creates discrimination towards this group of people leading employers to view them as unemployable. For example, the unemployment rate is 6 to 7 times higher for those suffering from schizophrenia.
Fighting the Stigma Around Mental Health
Suicide is the 2nd leading cause of death among teenagers and young adults in the United States. For this reason, reducing mental health stigma is more important than ever. By fighting the stigma around mental health, we can start to reduce the frequency of some of the consequences caused by it.
To achieve this we can be more compassionate, talk about mental health, question situations involving stigma, better educate ourselves and others, and use sensitive language.
Start a Conversation
The best possible way to overcome the stigma around mental health is to talk about it. Mental health used to be something that people would whisper about behind closed doors, which lead to this prevalent feeling of shame associated with it. Making it a common part of our everyday conversations is key to normalizing these conditions.
Not only does it make it more normal, but it also provides a platform for other people to ask questions and begin to understand mental illness. This is why mental health blogs and social media accounts are so important. It brings the conversation to a wide audience.
Another effective way to begin changing the stigma of mental illness is through compassion. We have to make an effort to not only understand that people suffering from depression, anxiety, schizophrenia, etc. are not to blame for their condition but to internalize it.
After internalizing it, you can act on that compassion. This can be done with minimal effort such as being kind to someone who suffers from mental illness or inviting them to an outing. The more people accept those suffering from mental health issues, the less stigmatized it will be.
Question Situations Involving Stigma
The more people see mental illness and the people who suffer from it, the more apparent the stigma and discrimination of it is. When you see mental health stigma affecting a situation, it’s important to question it. Even if the discrimination is coming from your own mind, it’s essential that you ask yourself why you’re feeling what you’re feeling and whether or not it’s rational.
Use the Right Language
Common terms such as “crazy” can disrespect those suffering from mental illness. It also symbolizes the deep-rooted stigma around mental health. A simple change from saying someone is, “mentally ill,” to saying someone “suffers from mental illness,” is significant and much more respectful.
Seek Out Education
People fear and reject what they don’t understand, so helping them understand mental is an effective means of reducing mental health stigma. When you hear discrimination or uneducated comments, treat it as an opportunity to educate and start a conversation.
Contribute to Overcoming Mental Health Stigma
Making the effort to recognize mental health stigma and the negative consequences associated with it is the first step in reducing mental health stigma. Those suffering from mental illness face discrimination, social isolation, and a fear of seeking treatment. By learning to be an advocate and changing the stigma around mental health, you can greatly improve the lives of those affected by it. For more articles on how you can contribute to change, visit our blog