“You must think I’m really weird for having this issue! I’m so embarrassed! I almost didn’t show up,” a client explained to me during her first session. This is a mutual and self-destructive thought process amongst many people regarding mental health.
What would your reaction be if someone revealed to you that they were diagnosed with a debilitating physical illness? Would your reaction be the same if they told you they were diagnosed with a mental disorder?
Unfortunately, many may answer no. We currently live in a society where there is an extreme stigma associated with mental health and treatment. We are much more open to seeking help when physical issues arise. However, we invest very little into mental health.
The health of our minds is just as important as the health of our bodies.
A prevalent misconception is that people who suffer from mental illnesses are “crazy,” “unstable, or “weak”. These untrue and biased views prolong this stigma and consequently affect the success rate of potential treatment outcomes.
According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, 1 in 5 people suffer from a diagnosable mental illness. Considering this, there are still high rates of people who are not aware of their condition, and others who are aware that go without proper treatment due to anticipated negative judgment. These prejudices only intensify existing mental health conditions due to emotional distresses like: embarrassment, silence, and confusion. Sufferers find themselves socially withdrawn and excluded, which nurtures a basis for a very unhappy and unhealthy life.
It’s important to recognize that a large amount of mental difficulties stem from being human and having a very real experience followed by a very confusing emotional reaction; this emphasizes the fact that, at some time in life, everyone is susceptible to experiencing mental stress. The only dynamic that makes us different, are the diverse coping styles we have learned and practice to conquer our stress.
With proper psycho-educational treatment about the mind and how it impacts daily functioning - as offered by Elttila, a majority of mental health symptoms can be overcome, allowing people to lead self-regulating, healthy lives.
If you are undergoing mental strain and are apprehensive about seeking the help you need, fight against the stigma! Don’t be bullied into silence for being human, or out of fear of being unpopular and ridiculed. Unaddressed mind stress is the root to feeling lost, sad and powerless. Strengthen and care for your well-being - not just physically, but emotionally as well. Strive to maintain a state of self-awareness that keeps you happy and conscious of your thoughts, feelings and reactions - no matter what may be taking place externally. Mental health is mind health. A healthy mind produces a strong foundation for success. We all need a-little (Elttila) help!
Written by Brianna Colbert, MA, LLPC.