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Mental Health Stigma and Medical Professionals: My Story

Holly Ann Rivera
My name: Holly Ann Rivera
Age: 27
Diagnosis: Major Depressive Disorder, General Anxiety Disorder.
Other Mental Health issues: Eating Disorder, Self Harm, and Traumas
Symptoms since: 1997

In addition to mental illness, I also deal with back problems on a daily basis. Just like mental illness, sometimes crisis intervention is necessary to re-stabilize. Recently, I went to the hospital ER for breakthrough pain from back spasms. It's not a fun thing to experience and even less fun when the focus lands on all my mental health problems instead of the pain I am currently in.

As a plethora of people attempt to sign me in, take an EKG, and ask way too many questions for me to handle at once, I hear the most dreaded question of all, "what medications are you currently taking?" Although I know this is needed to consider medication interaction and to see if my pain could be caused by any other ailment I have, I loathe this question. Instead of asking "what are you on XYZ for?" doctors and nurses like to pretend they know everything and insist on guessing. "Oh, so you have heart problems, anxiety, and are bipolar?" Nothing makes me angrier. I have yet to have anyone guess my diagnosis correctly. When I corrected the nurse, she seemed annoyed. I couldn't understand why a medical professional would be annoyed that I am knowledgeable of my own diagnosis. I continued to explain my mental health issues as well as my back problems and pointed out that the history of ER visits should be in the system, as I continuously use the same hospital. Much to the nurse's chagrin, the doctor confirmed what I was saying and continued on to treat the real problem.

Being Judged For Having A Mental Illness is Wrong

As a client, I should have the right to not be judged by every professional who thinks they know what every medication is for. Assumptions and judgments based on medical history make me feel defeated and abnormal. I know that the interaction between patient and medical staff is vital to correct diagnosis and treatment, but sometimes it's hard to disclose important information for fear of being judged. Thankfully, the doctor who treated me this time was willing to listen and trust me. It helped me to remember that not all people who work outside the mental health field are ignorant.

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APA Reference
Staff, H. (2015, January 19). Mental Health Stigma and Medical Professionals: My Story, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2020, October 30 from https://www.healthyplace.com/stigma/stories/mental-health-stigma-and-medical-professionals-my-story

Last Updated: June 1, 2015
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Medically reviewed by Harry Croft, MD

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