Reducing the Stigma of a Mental Health Diagnosis

mental help signs Mental health professionals and those who work in mental health associations work hard to convince their clients not to worry about what others think of their mental health diagnosis. There are mental health awareness months and events devoted to understanding mental illness and to reducing the stigma that is so prevalent in our society so that those affected will not be afraid to seek treatment.

Recently I came across a blog from England (Reduce Mental Health), which had compiled some comments from writers about this very subject, and I thought it would be worth summarizing what some of the authors said.

To reduce the stigma of a mental health diagnosis…

Tell your story. Step beyond the shame that so many experience and let others know what is going on for you and what it feels like to deal with depression, anxiety, schizoaffective disorder, bipolar disorder, and other diagnoses.

Educate others. We cannot rely on those who suffer from mental illness to do the education. We need to hold events, create games, teach students and their teachers about mental illness. If even a single person who learned to understand mental illness shared that knowledge with a friend, we would be making huge strides.

Create videos and use social media to create awareness. We must use more contemporary media to reach the younger populations and to make information easier to absorb. Mental illness is a huge subject and we must deliver the information in small bites (bytes!) that are interesting and understandable.

Teach people not to give unsolicited advice. Instead, help them learn to ask questions such as “How can I help?” or “What do you need?”

Don’t label. Labels are only useful for two things in the mental health world: to help determine the right treatment and to get an insurance company to pay you. Labels should never be used to identify a person or to determine their self-worth.

Be brave. As hard as it may be, get the help you need just as you would for a physical illness.

Despite a lot of redundancy in the writers’ opinions, it is clear that the stigma of having a mental health diagnosis exists worldwide. I am proud to be part of a profession that helps others, and every time one of my clients feels free to talk publicly about what he or she is going through, I know that I have not only helped to treat their mental illness but have helped them to live genuinely and without shame.

Do you or a loved one need help with this or similar issues? Reach out to me at 732-933-1333 to discuss.

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