Being diagnosed with any disease can be hard but being diagnosed with a mental illness can be particularly devastating to deal with.
You might wonder why this has happened to you or to someone close to you, and how this diagnosis will affect day to day living. But even more so, how will other people react to the diagnosis?
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the disease that robs many adults of the most years of productive life is not AIDS, heart disease or cancer, it is depression.
Stigma is one of the most challenging aspects of dealing with a mental health condition. It causes people to feel ashamed for something that is out of their control and prevents many from seeking the help that they desperately need. Much of the stigma and discrimination around mental wellbeing is rooted in old-fashioned myths and misconceptions and fueled by media stereotypes, as well as misinformation.
Remember, a mental illness is not a character flaw. It is caused by genetic, biological, social, and environmental factors. Seeking and accepting help from professionals; whether you or someone close to you are suffering from a mental illness, is a sign of strength, not of weakness.
Mental illness touches so many lives and yet, it’s still a giant “secret.” And yes, studies show that three out of four people with a mental illness have reported that they, or their families, have experienced stigma. So no, remember that you are not alone!
That’s why taking steps to break the stigma is important, for everyone. Mental illness is treatable, and recovery is possible. Often people would rather speak with a friend or family member before talking to a mental health professional. By educating yourself about mental health, and taking steps to combat stigma, you will be able to support people in your life in the recovery process and help them to seek the professional support they need.
It is also comforting to know that treatments are available for all mental health conditions.
Ways to maintain positive mental health include:
1. Prevention of Mental Disorders: Effective interventions and policy options: WHO.int.
2. Mental health: Overcoming the stigma of mental illness: Mayoclinic.org
3. The impact of illness identity on recovery from severe mental illness: A review of the evidence: Psychiatry Research Journal Volume 288, June 2020, 1129504. Self-stigma as a barrier to recovery: a longitudinal study: Pubmed.gov