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Dealing with Stigma

Laura A. Barton
A "Forbes" article from 2019 cites that 80 percent of New Year's Resolutions fail, sharing a number of reasons why that happens.[1] When it comes to your mental health goals, can stigma be one of the things derailing your resolutions? We're nearing the end of this first month into the new year, and I know many people will be evaluating how they're doing with their resolutions, so I wanted to take a look at this topic.
Laura A. Barton
Coping with unintentional mental health stigma is an important skill to have. The reason for that is even people with the best intentions can stigmatize mental health with their words or actions. Although they might now mean any harm, there's still the potential for harm, and having the tools to cope with those situations is useful.
Laura A. Barton
The links between mental health stigma and trigger warnings are multifaceted, which means navigating trigger warnings can be complicated. Mental health triggers are often easily dismissed as weakness or laughable, but they're very real, and warnings can help people prepare for a situation. However, those who don't want trigger warnings can also feel stigmatized by them.
Laura A. Barton
Talking isn't enough to break mental health stigma, which I think may be a hard pill to swallow. I know how impactful conversation and general mental health awareness efforts can be on an interpersonal level, and I don't mean to say those things aren't important. However, we need to understand that they're not enough to break mental health stigma entirely, and here's why.
Laura A. Barton
Surviving mental health stigma during awareness efforts might seem like the last thing anyone would need to do. After all, awareness efforts are designed to foster honest conversation and combat the stigma around mental health and mental illnesses. Despite the good of these efforts, however, there are still ways that people might be negatively impacted by them.
Laura A. Barton
When you're up against something and constantly pushing back against it, it's inevitable to wonder if the efforts are achieving anything. For instance, are we making progress combatting mental health stigma? There are campaigns upon campaigns, advocates upon advocates, so many voices and messages joining and leading the conversations about mental wellness and mental illness alike year after year. Surely, we must be making some progress combatting mental health stigma, right?
Laura A. Barton
Privilege has a role in overcoming mental health stigma, although it's not often at the forefront of our conversations in this sphere. I hadn't thought about it until recently, but when I mull over it and think about the many ways that privilege manifests, I can absolutely see privilege's role in overcoming the stigma around mental health.
Laura A. Barton
Surviving mental health stigma during isolation sounds like it would be an easy sort of situation. Even with isolation during the COVID-19 outbreak, the general idea of this practice is we're simply staying home and everything is okay, but that's not the case for everyone. Although the word "isolation," especially "self-isolation," gives this sense of being away from harmful things, there are still opportunities for mental health stigma.
Laura A. Barton
Letting others know you have a mental illness can feel like a confession because of stigma. Telling someone about the illness for the first time can be a large, daunting task because of this feeling that you're revealing a deep, dark secret. This is because stigma tells us that reactions to mental health struggles will always be negative.
Laura A. Barton
Many know the difficulty of dealing with mental health stigma, but there are also situations where a person might end up facing layers of stigma. This changes what it's like to deal with mental health stigma overall.