Let’s Face It, No One Wants To Talk About Mental Health
The topic is taboo, and the stigma feels suffocating and isolating. We can do better.
July 22, 2021
If you or a loved one are struggling with mental health, it’s common to feel different than other people or to feel like no one else understands.
Many people are afraid to share with coworkers because they worry that they are afraid of being judged, or worse, that they could lose their job.
Even friends and family are often left in the dark, unaware of how symptoms of conditions such as depression and PTSD affect our daily lives.
If you find yourself in a situation such as these, then you may have experienced stigma surrounding mental health. Stigma is an unfair mark of shame placed upon people with mental health issues, and one that we often place on ourselves.
Keep Reading To Learn
- How judgment and shame affect how we think about mental health
- How the media, our communities, and our own self-image can create stigma and delay seeking treatment
- How we can all do our part to help people not feel alone if they are struggling
Yes, There Is Stigma Related to Mental Health
Stigma, as it relates to mental health, is when people who experience mental illness are viewed or view themselves in a negative light.
Mental health stigma can either be public stigma, self-stigma, or a combination of the two.
Public stigma includes stereotypes and discrimination held by the general population. A person can adopt public stigma and hold negative beliefs even before developing a mental illness.
Stereotypes include beliefs that people are responsible for their mental health issues or that those with mental illness are more likely to be dangerous.
Common forms of discrimination include denying someone housing or turning down someone for a job based on their mental health.
Self-stigma happens when someone with mental illness applies negative public views to themselves. They observe others’ negative attitudes. Often, they believe they are unworthy or should be able to control their symptoms through willpower.
When someone takes on beliefs like these, it’s easy for them to feel isolated, misunderstood, or that they’re the underdog. They may hesitate to apply for housing, get medical care, and participate in community activities.
Understanding the Family’s Role in Mental Health Stigma
Family members can also experience stigma, both real and perceived. It’s common to fear that society or people in our communities will blame us for causing a loved one’s illness or will reject our family socially.
Family members may internalize public stigma and blame themselves. This can lead to social isolation and resistance to reaching out for help.
In family dynamics, it’s important that stigma and its rippling effects be addressed.
Approximately 50% of people will be diagnosed with a mental illness at some point in their lifetime. Even if half of a family experiences a mental illness, the whole family feels its impacts.