Maggie here, lets talk about stigmas! Stigmas around mental health are everywhere. Luckily while working in the field of mental health I have had the privilege of helping reduce that “stigma” and neutralizing mental health illness. It is my hope that this blog will inform those of you who struggle with mental illness and educate those of you who may not realize the lasting effects of stigmas. Through my post-secondary education and experience I have seen many people struggle with the effects of the stigmas and discriminations that are so prevalent around mental health. I have seen connections between stigmas and discrimination. Mayo Clinic defines stigma as a person viewing an asset or quality within someone in a negative way. With that being said, if a person is treating you in a negative way because of your mental illness, this can be similar to discrimination.
An unfortunate side effect that individuals can encounter when having a mental illness is this black cloud of assumptions they could experience from society. This burden, in turn, worsens the problem and makes it difficult for one to cope. Individuals experiencing this stigma can feel shame in their personal lives, fear in getting treatment, self-doubt, hopelessness, and isolation. In working in the medical field, I have had the privilege of working with some amazing professionals who have both studied stigma and who have taught people with this cloud how to overcome such sadness. With that being said I have learned an important skill, which is to remember: You are in control.
You are in control! Try to think to yourself, “what are the things in my life that I can have control over and what are the things that I do not have control over?” When we put our thoughts into this kind of perspective it can decrease the anxieties that one experiences when worrying about things outside of their control. An example of this could be individuals that create stigma and discrimination around mental illness. This is out of our control, but what we can control is reaching out for help when we have difficulty overcoming those influences.
This is easier said than done. The heaviness that the world places on us can be extremely powerful, especially when the judgment comes from our loved ones. However, this is not an impossible task. The idea of reminding oneself, “Is this in my control or out of my control?” is key! This will take practice, but with practice will come a great deal of reward and ease. Accepting what is out of your control and then modifying what is in your control can serve you best when learning how to handle mental health stigma.
Stigma and discrimination may always be there but having these conversations, informing, being aware, and sharing articles like this one will educate and support those who may not know the impact of their perception. Don’t let stigma be the cause of your anxiety and depression; continue to remind yourself, “Getting help is in my control and changing what others think and say is out of my control.”
Here at EVOLVEwithin, we care deeply for those working through mental illness and care deeply for the relationships you have. If you or someone you know is struggling with their mental health we have wonderful therapists who are able to help. Give us a call at (262)-649-3297 to schedule your spot today!
Article contribution by Maggie Berg, MFT Clinical Intern