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Surviving Mental Health Stigma

Laura A. Barton
A setback in mental health recovery is a challenge because many have this idea that recovery must be perfect. The rhetoric tends to be that we’re strong when we’re recovering and we’re weak if we have a setback; I’ve even had someone tell me she was strong enough to avoid mental illness relapse. The way I see it, though, a setback in mental health recovery -- and mental illness as a whole -- is not that simply defined.
Leif Gregersen
When you let stigma be a barrier to a full life, it means you are letting stigma win. By resisting stigma and fighting it, not letting it be a barrier, you are taking control of your life and will be on your way to mental illness recovery. Relationships and employment are not privileges, they are a right. As a human being you not only don't have to put up with stigma, you also have a right to find work, make a living or supplement your income, and have healthy relationships. In other words, it is important not to let stigma be a barrier to a full, happy and productive life.
Laura A. Barton
Mental health stigma affects the loved ones of a person with mental illness, not only the person with the mental illness. I don’t mean in the situations where the loved one openly or inadvertently stigmatizes, but rather the stigma falls onto them to by association. I know it’s sometimes just a worry that we as people with mental illness have, and typically we look at it in the form of thinking we’re embarrassments rather than the targets of stigma, but loved ones face mental health stigma, too.
Leif Gregersen
We all use stigmatizing words; some can't seem to stop, some don't know they are hurtful. The truth is, we can make a difference in our world if we stop using stigmatizing words (Language Can Stigmatize People with Mental Illness). We want to be able to talk about mental health and reduce stigma in the media, at home, and in the workplace. To increase awareness and to do this, we must stop using stigmatizing words and insist others do the same.
Laura A. Barton
It’s a natural thing to make comparisons, but when we compare mental illnesses, it can lead to stigma when you start using it, whether consciously or unconsciously, to figure out who’s sicker. While it’s very likely not intentional, when we, as people with mental illnesses, start keeping score, so to speak, we’re doing more damage than good. We end up seeing both kinds of stigma — stigma against others and self-stigma — as a result of comparing mental illnesses.
Leif Gregersen
Mental health stigma can cause isolation and loneliness in those with mental illness (Mental Illness, Isolation, and Loneliness). No one with a mental health problem should isolate themselves due to mental health stigma because loneliness can lead to more severe problems, even suicide. The loneliness of isolation certainly causes personal grief and sadness for those dealing with mental health stigma.
Leif Gregersen
When people have wrong ideas about those who suffer from a mental health issue, moods and relationships can be affected by this mental health stigma (Misunderstandings Can Contribute to Mental Health Stigma). Moods are affected by mental health stigma because when you allow these false ideas to affect you, quite often you will have poor self-esteem, which can lead to other effects such as isolation. Isolation is one of the worst parts of mental illness and when you stay inside and shut yourself off from the world, the first thing to be affected is relationships which can then lead to or add to low moods. 
Laura A. Barton
Careful media portrayals of mental illness are more important than they may seem. While it’s true that not everyone feels the influence of media, there are people that do, and it is those people that we have to keep an eye out for. People might be influenced regarding their hair style or the latest Twitter hashtag, but the media portrayal of mental illness may influence them as well.
Laura A. Barton
Saying mental illness and acceptance in the same breath might seem like an awful idea at first, but accepting your mental health condition can actually be a key player in removing, or at the very least alleviating, the stigma you face (Why It’s Hard to Accept a Diagnosis of a Mental Disorder). Personally speaking, accepting my mental illnesses for what they are helped both the self-stigma and external stigma I felt.
Leif Gregersen
The stigma surrounding mental illness can be debilitating; it can even cause you to deny symptoms you need to share with your psychiatrist and treatment team (How to Talk to a Doctor About Your Mental Illness). The fact is, until you can open up to your doctor and others who are there to help you and be honest, it will be very difficult--if not impossible--for you to get the help you need.