Although seeking treatment for mental health symptoms still carries a stigma, there are many ways to help break down those barriers. Factors that play into the stigmatization of mental health include culture, race, gender, fear, and discrimination. Within different cultures, there are various understandings of what mental health is. Addressing mental health concerns and seeking treatment looks different for each community. There are gaps in knowledge and acceptance for mental health, which allows the stigma to continue.
The stigma surrounding mental health treatment can include feeling ashamed, worrying about what others think, and fearing discrimination, which can lead to not receiving needed treatment. Mental health is as important as physical health; moreover, many physical health conditions can lead to the development of mental health conditions.
How can you do your part of tearing down the stigmas that surround mental health?
01 Know that it is OK to seek treatment.
Seeking treatment allows you to manage the symptoms of your condition and provide you the ability to help navigate the stigmas around it. Your health advisor can help you locate resources in your area; there are telehealth options, and counselors that can work with you through in-person sessions. Insurance can be a great resource to find a counselor that is a pre-approved provider to help with your mental health needs.
02 If you have questions about treatment, ask.
Healthcare professionals can answer any concerns or questions you may have about what treatment for your condition looks like. It can also help to share what your journey looks like. So, when others have questions about the process, you can serve as a learning opportunity for them—further helping the de-stigmatization of mental health!
03 Build a support system.
Your support system can include your Health Advisor, family members, friends, spouse or partner, and a therapist or mental health professional. The purpose of a support system is to establish a group of people that care about your mental wellbeing, that you can talk openly and freely with. They are the backbone of treatment and recovery.
Support groups can also be an important part of your support system. Support groups are a local or virtual community of people that have the same conditions as you. They are crucial when navigating your condition and learning better ways to manage the symptoms of it. This is an opportunity to learn about new experiences and share what your experience has been like.
04 Be honest.
Talk openly and honestly about mental health and treatment with your support system and a mental health professional. Having a voice in mental health and talking about your experiences can help normalize these types of conditions and pave a knowledgeable path to those who may be seeking treatment options.
05 Choose to be empowered instead of ashamed.
Making this choice can be difficult, but it is important in order to tear down the stigma around mental health. Empowerment in mental health translates to the ability to talk about your conditions and experiences to help inform others and to help open up opportunities for others to learn about mental health and how it varies from one diagnosis to the next.
06 Be mindful.
Be mindful of your words, and how you think and feel about mental illness, in order to address your own bias and to help protect those around you. Recognizing that you may not have enough knowledge about a condition or feel strong emotions towards a certain diagnosis can serve as opportunities to learn. This will put you in a better position of helping others on their mental health journey.
If you or someone you may know has mental health and wellness needs, it is normal to get the help you need and use your experience to destigmatize mental health treatment. It’s important to note that if you do not have a mental health condition, but have a loved one who does, there are support groups out there, or you can help them build their own support system. It’s important to do your best to help them.
Your Health Advisor can help connect you with a counselor or support group in your area to help you on the journey to a happier, healthier life.