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Stigma and Society's Perception of Mental Illness

Laura A. Barton
I wear two rings that I fidget with. One is a spinner ring, designed for fidgetting; the other is a ring that's actually three interlocking rings and just happens to be good for fidgeting. I've always enjoyed wearing rings, even to the point that, in high school and early university, I wore rings on nearly every finger. Back then, it was more aesthetic-driven, but I've realized that wearing rings I can fidget with helps my anxiety.
Laura A. Barton
Arguably one of the most common forms of mental health stigma is the fact that mental toughness is valued over mental wellness. Think of all the times we're told to get over mental health struggles or toughen up to get through them. This pervasive stigma doesn't necessarily deny mental struggles; it just says we need to be tougher when it comes to the challenges brought on by them.
Laura A. Barton
Britney Spears' conservatorship has been a hot topic since she was able to say her piece in court on June 23. It's caused fans to rally behind her, supporting her as she struggles with being under other peoples' control for more than a decade and the impact that's had on her mental wellbeing. Perhaps ironically, it was a mental health crisis that kicked off the conservatorship, to begin with. I can't help but wonder, what has been mental health stigma's role in keeping that conservatorship in place?
Laura A. Barton
Recent events in tennis have highlighted mental health stigma in sports and mental health struggles in sports in general. I'll be honest; I don't follow sports—neither the actual games/matches/events nor the athletes—but the controversy with tennis player Naomi Osaka bowing out of the French Open due to backlash over her mental health self-care decision caught my attention.
Laura A. Barton
As someone with skin picking disorder, summer was always a time of dread. It was as if the warm weather grew stigma the same way it could grow plants. Guidance during those days of my life would have been great for handling fear and shame, and a short summer guide to surviving skin picking disorder stigma is exactly what I'd like to offer now.
Laura A. Barton
The global pandemic has altered many aspects of our day-to-day lives, but what is its impact on mental health stigma? From what I've seen of discussions and news reports and so forth, more and more folks are experiencing mental health struggles during this change in lifestyle and time of uncertainty. I wonder, though, what impact that might have on how mental health is treated by society.
Laura A. Barton
Does mental health stigma make you feel like an imposter? I've been thinking about this question because the more I look at mental health stigma, the more I can see it entangled in certain aspects of the mental health conversation I didn't expect. Let's take a look at imposter syndrome and mental health stigma.
Laura A. Barton
I see a certain question come up time and again in discussions about health—which is more important: physical or mental health? Even if no one directly asks that question, the undertone of a large number of these conversations pits these two aspects of health against one another. We're even seeing it now with the global pandemic that continues to shake the world.
Laura A. Barton
One important thing for folks to realize is that mental health struggles don't take a holiday. Given the year that 2020 has been and the on-going restrictions on gatherings across the globe, I imagine that it may be easier to see than ever before, with the holidays looking different than usual. All the same, I wanted to take time to comment on mental health struggles during the holiday season and how mental health stigma factors into that.
Laura A. Barton
Recovery may not look as expected, and I believe reshaping mental health recovery can be a tool to combat mental health stigma. By challenging the perception we have of recovery, it may help people understand that mental health struggles don't necessarily go away. Reshaping mental health recovery can contribute to stopping the idea that we should associate mental health struggles with willpower, contagion, and other harmful notions brought on by stigma. There are two keys ways I see to do this.