Nowadays, it’s difficult to seek professional help about their mental health due to a stigma surrounding mental illness counseling. Based on how society works and how it reacts to various issues, counseling is considered a controversial topic because individuals seeking counseling are stigmatized as “crazy” people. Consequently, the stigma on counseling negatively impacts those seeking professional help for their mental health condition. They refuse to seek professional support out of fear of what other people will think of them when they seek counseling. Overcoming the stigma associated with counseling might be challenging, but it can be done.
Overcoming Stigma Associated With Counseling
Stigma pertains to negative perspective or discriminating against someone based on a specific characteristic the individual has such as mental illness, a health condition or a disability. Researches have shown that due to stigma, it became one of the leading risk factors for contributing to a poor mental health outcome. Stigma is also the factor for delayed treatment and reduces the chance of a person receiving appropriate and enough care.
Here are some common examples of mental health stigma:
Using vulgar phrases such as “that person is crazy” to describe their behavior or what they think of them.
Harmful stereotyping such as “Once you get counseling, you are definitely crazy.”
Individuals thinking that mental health is something a person can overcome easily and get over, such as “ you should just stop thinking about it” or “you can just think of happy things.”
Types of Stigma
There are two types of stigma that are associated with mental illness and it is divided into two types:
This involves the prejudiced attitudes others have around mental illness.
This involves an internalized stigma from the person with the mental illness she/he suffers from.
Due to a 2013 review of studies, the public stigma of mental illness showed that stigma is widespread and that the public has become more aware of the causes of the different mental health conditions. The public may accept the medical or genetic nature of a psychiatric illness and the need for treatment. However, many people still have a negative view of those with mental health conditions.
Harmful Effects of a Stigma
- Reluctance to seek help or treatment.
- It may affect your daily life
- It may cause bullying, physical violence or harassment
What can you do to overcome stigma?
If you still encounter the stigma, then here are tips that will help on overcoming that stigma.
Join a support group
There are local and national groups that you can join online or personally that may help you feel that you are not alone and offer help to reduce the stigma by educating people mental illness, their families, and the public in general.
Speak out against stigma
Do not be afraid to voice out your opinions at an event, on the internet, or in a program about mental illness and the stigma. It will greatly help others and encourage people who are facing similar challenges in their life.
Don’t isolate yourself
If you are struggling with mental illness, do not be afraid to tell your loved ones, friends, or family about it. They may offer you support once they know about your mental illness. You should reach out to people you trust for the understanding and support that you need.
Acknowledge that you are not alone
Know that you are not alone in the challenges that you are facing and that people also experience mental illness. A study showed that one in four Americans may have a mental illness of some kind.
Do not self-doubt and shame yourself
You may mistakenly think that your condition is a sign of personal weakness or that you can control it without any help needed. Avoid doing that and seek counseling, educate yourself regarding your condition, and try connecting with others who may have a mental illness. In that way, you may gain self-esteem and overcome destructive self-judgment.
Do not let the fear of being labeled with a mental illness prevent you from seeking professional help. Treatment can significantly help you and provide relief by identifying what is wrong and reducing the symptoms that may interfere with your personal life.
Overcoming the stigma associated with counseling can be challenging. Do not be afraid to seek help. Your mental health comes first before anything else! Do not let the stigma get you, and do not also be scared to voice out against the stigma; lessening the stigma will help other people who may be experiencing the same challenges.
Additional Reading: How Mental Health Affects Physical Health
SAGE Counseling Omaha
At SAGE Counseling Omaha, our primary focus is on helping you to get the support and treatment that you need as you move forward. We all experience challenges that are often too difficult to work through on their own, and we are here to support you during these tough times.
When you connect with our compassionate counseling team, you can rest assured that you will receive the individualized care that you need. Contact us today. For approved clients, we are able to utilize telehealth services through our HIPAA-compliant virtual software.