What’s What Wednesday: The Stigma of Mental Illness
May is Mental Health Awareness Month. Sunshine State Counseling Center would like to take a step in breaking down discrimination and the stigma surrounding mental illnesses by talking about mental health and sharing how it feels to live with a mental illness. We often hear the clinical terms used by doctors and other professionals to identify the symptoms of mental illness. Often, clinical terms do not do justice to what life with a mental illness feels like. We know that two people with the same diagnosis can experience the same symptom and describe it in very different ways.
Understanding the signs of a mental illness and identifying how it can feel can be confusing—and sometimes can contribute to ongoing silence or hesitation to get help. It is important for people to talk about how it feels to live with a mental illness. We know that mental illnesses are common and treatable, and help is available. Not everyone knows what to look for when they are going through those early stages, and many simply experience symptoms differently.
Sunshine State Counseling Center has compiled a list of how we can combat the Stigma of Mental Illness:
- Tell your story. Whether it is to a friend, family member, or someone you barely know, share your story.
- Seek treatment for your mental illness. It is hard to admit that you have a mental illness, but do not allow the fear of a label stop you from getting help and treatment. Treatment for mental illness can lessen your symptoms and allow you to live a normal life.
- Do not hide your mental illness – tell other people that you love and trust about your mental illness so that you can reach out and get the support you need during the hard times.
- Seek help at school, especially if your mental illness prevents you from reaching your full potential. Schools offer programs to help students who suffer from mental illness to succeed – do not hesitate to reach out and see what is available to you or your child.
Remember: you may HAVE a mental illness, but you are NOT a mental illness.