Why Is Mental Health Stigmatized?
While we are seeing progress in understanding and accepting mental health, it can’t come fast enough for those struggling with this issue. Mental health stigma is real and can prevent people from seeking treatment. Learn more and find mental health treatment in south Florida.
What Is Mental Health Stigma?
We’ve all experienced mental health stigma at some point, whether we realize it or not. It’s ingrained into our culture and still widely accepted and practiced. The symptoms of this stigma are present everywhere and can range from mild to extreme.
For example, a minor version of this is using terms like “crazy” or “nuts”, especially in certain contexts. Who are these terms designed to bring to your mind? Conversely, someone may refuse to get their child help when they ask for it because “our family doesn’t do that.” There are even more extreme examples of ostracizing, bullying, and hate crimes. Essentially, mental health stigma can take many forms. However, they all have the effect of demonizing and/or silencing those who need help.
Barrier to Help
Discussing and addressing mental health stigma is important for many reasons. Over half of Americans with mental illnesses don’t seek treatment. Most importantly, mental health stigma acts as a barrier to anyone needing help. Many people with mental illnesses choose not to seek treatment because of the fear of stigmatization, whether intrinsic or from others.
Some people may fear that seeking mental health treatment is a sign of weakness, that people will think less of them, or other common concerns. It’s important to recognize that this affects everyone. Nobody is immune to mental health issues, no matter their “toughness” or “strength.” If our goal is reducing mental health stigma, we need to consider mental health as an “us” problem, not a “them” problem.
Unfortunately, another major issue with stigmatization is the institutionalization of the stigma. We mean that people can lose job prospects or privileges due to seeking mental health treatment in certain cases. Of course, this is a serious concern for many people who need help.
Understanding Mental Health
The largest factor in mental health stigma is ignorance. We have generations upon generations of people who misunderstand the value of mental health and what it is like to struggle with a mental condition. As a result, cultures have evolved to ignore signs of mental illness or to punish them when they become too extreme. While we have overcome some of the worst effects of this, the remaining “symptoms” are a general stigmatization of mental illness as a whole. If anything, you can take that as a sign of progress, albeit slow progress.
Also, psychology is still a relatively new field, which means the word is still spreading. It takes time to learn about mental health and for information to be widely understood and disseminated.
Why Is Mental Health Important?
Our mental health is every bit as important as our physical health. The only difference is that one is less visible. Deteriorating mental health can even affect our physical health. Higher stress levels, anxiety, and depression can lead to:
- High blood pressure
- Fluctuating weight
- Heart disease
- Neurological issues
The list goes on. Even a lack of exercise from depression will lead to serious health problems if left untreated. Moreover, suicide is a leading cause of death in the United States, especially for more vulnerable demographics. There is a lot of room between happiness and suicidal ideology, whereas treatment could have been pursued during that entire progression. Stigma only acts as an additional barrier for many in need.
Unfortunately, there is no happy ending without mental health treatment. Mental illnesses only tend to progress over time when left to persist. The earlier they are addressed, the easier it is to overcome them.
Find Mental Health Treatment in South Florida
Mental health stigma shouldn’t stop you from getting the help that you need. No matter who you are or what challenges you face, help is available when you need it. You’ll be amazed how a simple step toward finding treatment will open up new doors for you in your life and improve your mental health.
Don’t hesitate to contact us with any questions or to find mental health treatment in south Florida!