Overcoming Common Stigmas of Mental Illness
by Beth Davis
There are millions of Americans suffering from some form of mental illness. Yet, the number of people that actually get help for their condition pales in comparison to those diagnosed. While some don't seek treatment due to financial reasons, lack of proper coverage, or denial, others refuse simply because of the many stigmas that surround mental illness.
Far too many people put off getting help for their mental health out of fear. Some believe it could have a negative impact on their careers, some fear it will ruin their personal relationships, and others are afraid of being looked at differently or labeled crazy. While it's completely normal for someone to have these concerns, when that concern prevents them from taking care of their health, it can become a serious problem.
Avoiding Help = Self-Destruction
When you put off getting help for your mental illness every aspect of your life can fall apart. Individuals with untreated mental health problems end up falling behind at work, causing unnecessary breakdowns in their personal relationships, and lessening their quality of life. You're unable to live to your fullest potential, you start isolating yourself from the people and things you enjoy, and, unknowingly you push those you love most away.
Some who suffer from mental illness look to unhealthy coping mechanisms like abusing drugs and alcohol, gambling, and acting out sexually or violently. This, can cause problems with the law, end your career, ruin your relationships, and send you on a downward spiral.
Debunking the Myths
Ultimately, the most effective solution is to get help. Whether it's seeking treatment from a counselor such as a talk therapy or medications or enlisting in alcohol rehab and getting assistance with addiction and your underlying mental health problem. To get those negative voices out of your head, however, you should educate yourself on mental health and the benefits of treatment. Below, are some of the most common mental illness stigmas and facts to help you debunk the myths:
Having a Mental Illness Means You're Weak
For starters, no one who suffers from mental illness is at fault. Much like developing a physical illness, a person's mental health declines as a result of environmental and biological factors. It has nothing to do with your physical abilities or character. Having a history of mental illness in your family can make you more susceptible to be diagnosed in the future. Being in a car accident at no fault of your own could prove traumatic and as a result, cause a person to suffer from PTSD. Working a stressful job could result in a person burning out or suffering from anxiety.
Mental Illness Can Go Away With Self-Care
Though self-care practices can be crucial to helping someone recover from mental illness, that alone is not enough to treat the problem. Not to mention, most who suffer from depression or other conditions aren't interested in practicing self-care. To truly overcome mental conditions a person must often make several changes and undergo various treatments. This can include taking medications, talking with a therapist, and making lifestyle changes.
You Can Lose Your Job
Fear of becoming unemployed is a common factor in why many people suffering from mental illness don't come forward. They believe that in discussing the matter with their employers, they will be labeled crazy or unfit to perform their duties. Contrary to popular belief, however, this is far from the truth. In fact, employers are not allowed to fire an employee if they suffer from mental illness. There are laws that protect your position provided that you seek treatment for your condition.
Mental Illness Never Goes Away
Feeling as if you're "stuck" the way you are can make you feel like there's no use in getting help. Though there is no instant cure for mental illness, treatment can help make life easier. Through solutions like medications, therapy, and self-care, you can relieve a lot of your symptoms and boost your mood for an improved quality of life. Without these measures, however, you continue to suffer.
If you experience signs of mental illness, don't brush it under the rug - get help. Staying in the darkness only worsens your symptoms and alters every aspect of your life. You may have heard stigmas like you'll lose your job, you'll be labeled crazy, you can treat the problem yourself, or even that you're stuck this way forever, but the facts state something different. Do yourself and your loved ones a favor and get out of your negative head and make the first step toward creating a positive change.