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  • Writer's pictureTharun sai E

Understanding the Stigma Surrounding Seeking Help from a Psychiatrist or Therapist


As a society, we often view seeking help from a psychiatrist or therapist as a sign of weakness. Many people are reluctant to admit that they are struggling with mental health issues, and even when they do, they may not be willing to seek professional help. This stigma surrounding mental health care can be a significant barrier to people getting the help they need, and it is important to understand where it comes from and how to overcome it. 


The stigma of mental health care


One of the primary reasons for the stigma surrounding mental health care is the misunderstanding of mental illness. Many people still view mental illness as a personal failure or weakness, rather than a legitimate medical condition. They may believe that people with mental health issues should just "snap out of it" or "get over it.”


Another reason for the stigma is the fear of being judged or discriminated against. People may worry that seeking help for mental health issues will make them appear unstable or unreliable to their coworkers or friends. They may also fear losing their jobs or being denied opportunities if they disclose their mental health struggles.


Finally, there is a lack of education and awareness surrounding mental health issues. Many people may not know what to look for when it comes to symptoms of mental illness, or they may not know how to access mental health care services in their area. This lack of knowledge can lead to a sense of helplessness and isolation, further perpetuating the stigma surrounding mental health care. 


Overcoming the stigma


The first step in overcoming the stigma surrounding mental health care is to educate yourself and others about mental illness. Learn about the symptoms, causes, and treatments of various mental health conditions, and share this information with others. This can help to break down misconceptions and increase understanding and acceptance of mental health care.


According to a study published in the Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology, nearly 40% of people with mental illness reported experiencing stigma from their family or friends. The same study found that stigma can lead to increased levels of stress, depression, and anxiety among those with mental health issues. An important step is to seek help if you need it. If you are struggling with mental health issues, don't be afraid to reach out to a professional for help. Talk to your doctor or a mental health care provider in your area, and don't be afraid to ask for referrals or recommendations. Remember that seeking help is a sign of strength, not weakness and that getting the help you need can improve your quality of life and overall well-being.


It is also important to create a safe and supportive environment for those struggling with mental health issues. A study published in the Journal of Health and Social Behavior found that people who experienced stigma around their mental health issues were less likely to seek treatment and more likely to have poorer mental health outcomes. Be a good listener, and avoid judging or stigmatising others based on their mental health struggles. Encourage open and honest conversations about mental health, and advocate for policies and programs that support mental health care and reduce stigma. 


Conclusion


The stigma surrounding mental health care is a significant barrier to people getting the help they need. It is important to understand the reasons for this stigma and to take steps to overcome it. By educating ourselves and others about mental illness, seeking help when we need it, and creating a safe and supportive environment for those who are struggling with mental health issues, we can help to reduce the stigma surrounding mental health care and improve outcomes for those who need it most.


Sources


American Psychiatric Association. (2021). Stigma and Discrimination. Retrieved April 10, 2023, from https://www.psychiatry.org/patients-families/stigma-and-discrimination


Mayo Clinic. (2021). Mental health: What's normal, what's not. Retrieved April 10, 2023, from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/mental-illness/in-depth/mental-health/art-20046477


Vogel, D. L., Wade, N. G., & Hackler, A. H. (2007). Perceived public stigma and the willingness to seek counseling: The mediating roles of self-stigma and attitudes toward counseling. Journal of Counseling Psychology, 54(1), 40–50. https://doi.org/10.1037/0022-0167.54.1.40

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