We all know that there is an overwhelming stigma surrounding mental illness. I’ve covered many of the possible reasons for this and things that we can do to combat it. But since you are the only person who is in your mind, 24-hours a day, fighting stigma needs to begin from within.
Stigma is undoubtedly at least partially created by outside forces such as schoolmates, colleagues and the media. But I would argue that a good portion of it stems from how we think about ourselves, how we describe ourselves and what faulty thinking patterns we have adopted to cope with mental illness.
At the treatment centre I work at, I facilitate a weekly psychoeducational class on Cognitive Restructuring. In a nut-shell, this approach helps clients identify and correct faulty thinking patterns, or distortions. Whether you are a client of mental health and addiction services, or just your regular every day citizen, you will fall victim to these distortions. They happen to the best of us and no one is immune.
And the first step toward correcting them, is being able to identify them.