Mental Health Stigma of Seeking Help For Your Mental Illness
As I walk through the day hospital to attend a new cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) program, I feel a sense of embarrassment and shame. I wonder and search within myself to only ask, “How has it come to this?” As I stop by the nurse’s station to ask for directions to find my way to the group, I cannot help but sense that they must be assessing and judging me. There is a great deal of mental health stigma when accessing mental health resources for the purpose of rehabilitation and I believe a great majority of us have felt it at one time or another.
The Self-Stigma of Mental Health Treatment
Every time I walk into the local Mental Health Centre to see my psychiatrist, I instantly feel self-stigmatized. What do I mean by this? It is difficult to explain, but something changes inside of me when I go into that place, and it is as if I have to become someone that I am not. I tend to hold my head higher, avoid eye contact with the other patients in the lobby and feel the need to be extra friendly to the receptionist, somehow seeking her approval. I need to look my best, act my most appropriate and seek to feel superior. I am sure I have said in my head when referring to others in the room, “I am not as sick as those people.”
I am not only self-stigmatized by feeling so awkward and out of my own skin by accessing mental health resources, but I am to blame for stigmatizing others who are also seeking help as I am sure many of us have. I realize now that I am no better than any other person seeking help and we are all there for the same purpose, which is to get healthy.
Mental Health Stigma of Getting Help for your Mental Illness
There are too many people that suffer in silence and do not get the help that they need because they are often afraid of what they will find if they do – rejection and ridicule. I have walked into Psychiatric Emergency Wards too many times to assist people that are on the brink of suicide, and it is not bad enough that they are simply given a script for meds then told to go home and wait it out, but hospital staff also fail to recognize the seriousness of the situation and become desensitized from psych emergency type situations. They often end up treating the service-user as just that, “a service-user” and not a person.
If people do muster up the courage to ask for help, their friends may not be supportive, claiming that the person in crisis is simply trying to get attention and, unfortunately, this is very common with parents and teenagers. Or friends may scoff and say things like, “You just have to snap out of it and suck it up!” Many people do not even believe mental illness is real, but what is real is the pain and tragedies that happen from people not getting the treatment they need.
If you feel ashamed, afraid and stigmatized, remember your mental health and well-being still require a strong stance to get well. It may not be an easy stance to approach, but definitely a necessary one. I realize that there is stigma around mental health rehabilitation, but the more we stand up and partake in such services, the stronger we become in demanding and voicing the need for them in our communities.
Don’t let mental health stigma ruin your chances of becoming healthy, but, instead, know that your life is valuable beyond measure and you deserve the rehabilitation and assistance that you require to obtain true mental wellness.
Paquette, A. (2014, December 31). Mental Health Stigma of Seeking Help For Your Mental Illness, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2019, August 23 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/survivingmentalhealthstigma/2014/12/the-mental-health-stigma-of-seeking-help-for-your-mental-illness