One in five Americans experiences a mental health disorder in any given year, but far too many of them fail to get the help they need. Why?
One of the biggest barriers to seeking help for their behavioral health care needs is the role that stigma plays in our lives. The idea of mental illness pushes some people into denial, causes others shame, and raises concerns about “what other people will think.”
Stigma arises from negative stereotypes that are based on a lack of knowledge about the causes and consequences of mental illness.
Stigma can result in social exclusion, job insecurity, and feelings of low self worth, often exacerbating the symptoms the patient is already experiencing.
Education is the single most effective weapon we have against stigma. Thinking of mental illness in the same way we think about physical illness is a good first step. In addition to informing ourselves, each of us can help others develop a better understanding of mental illness; together we can put an end to stigma.
Remember, life is short. Let’s each do our part to make it the best we can, for ourselves and for those around us.