The stigmas surrounding mental health disorders are damaging and can often hinder one’s motivation to seek help. However, these stigmas often stem from a lack of understanding about various mental health issues, including the language sometimes used when talking about these issues. Stigmatizing language can be deliberately harmful or more subtle, in which people using certain terms don’t even know that they are feeding into stereotypes and misinformation.
Eradicating stigmas takes educating friends and family to help them understand what you and others are going through. It also takes learning to accept your mental health issues and taking the steps you need to support your health and relationships. Let’s take a look at various ways to cope with the stigmas surrounding mental health so you can focus on what’s most important to you–your mental health.
Many men refuse to seek help because they believe that getting care for their mental health is a sign of weakness. Men are also more likely to believe that they can control their mental health issues on their own. However, these are both untrue, and they only stand to worsen disorders and even create additional disorders, such as using substances to self-medicate and cope with your emotions. Learning to ignore the stereotypes and stigmas surrounding mental health disorders and treatment is essential for helping you seek professional help sooner and before it becomes a crisis. Think of it this way, if you broke a bone, you would seek care. Your mental health needs are no different.
Getting treatment is vital to bringing relief and reducing symptoms that interfere with your work and personal life. Getting care sooner will also help in providing a thorough diagnosis. Taking measures to improve your mental health boosts self-esteem, improves your overall perspective, and enables you to overcome destructive self-judgment. You will also discover through seeking help that those who seek help do not define themselves by the stigma, nor do they allow others to judge them. Such a community of people also helps you learn that you are not alone and that there is always support.
Educate Yourself and Others
When you work and seek the benefits of treatment, you will attain knowledge about mental health, including recognizing symptoms and what treatments may be beneficial for managing these symptoms. You will also help others by providing accurate information and helping them see that treating a mental health issue is no different than treating other medical issues. You can also help create a safe and comfortable space for you and other friends and family members to discuss mental health. Doing so all works to diminish stigmas because not only will you become an advocate for mental health, but you will be able to counter misinformation and educate others on the benefits of seeking help too.
Join a Support Group
Recovery is incredibly difficult in isolation. If you do not tell others about what you are going through, no one can help you. Many local communities and online communities offer support groups that provide additional programs and resources. These groups work hard to educate those with a mental illness to better understand what they are experiencing and why. Knowing what is available in your community not only brings comfort in knowing that you have local support, but you also help strengthen the community to bring awareness to others.
Seeking treatment helps you understand that your experiences, needs, and story are yours to own and tell. When you know this, you also recognize that you will not allow others to change your mind or negatively shape how you tell your story. This is very empowering. When you honor your story and your needs, you also respect the stories of those who share similar experiences. Empower yourself by showing others who you are by sharing your strengths, talents, and goals. Encourage those struggling to do the same. How you respond to the stigmas and the attitudes of others can help to change people’s attitudes toward mental health issues.
Choose the Language You Use
The language you use can also help shape the perceptions people have about certain disorders. For example, instead of saying “I’m bipolar,” you might instead say, “I have bipolar disorder.” While this change might seem subtle, the latter helps people understand that your disorder does not define you; rather, you manage your disorder, just as a person with diabetes manages their condition. Avoiding negative language can also improve your self-perception and help you understand that your disorder is only one aspect of who you are. Being kind and respectful to yourself and others can work to help eliminate stigmas about mental health and create a more supportive and understanding society.
The stigmas surrounding mental health and substance use are often untrue and have the harmful effect of discouraging people from seeking help for mental health issues due to ignorance and misinformation. Today, many treatment centers work to educate people on the importance of mental health, inspire people to seek help, and change the narrative to combat stigmas. At Choice House, we provide such a space for men to come and see that treatment is nothing like what the stigmas and stereotypes suggest. We use conventional and alternative care approaches to provide a transformative experience that will inspire you to seek your greatest potential and motivate you to help others do the same. If you or a loved one has reached a point where they need help, then the time to seek help is today. Remember, recovery should always come first. Learn more about getting help for mental health and substance use disorders by calling Choice House at (720) 577-4422.