Psychotherapy? Should I or Shouldn’t I?: The Effect of Stigmas on Mental Health

mentalillnessstigmaWhen you break your leg, what do you do? You go to the hospital. Similarly, when you have a mental illness, what do you do? You seek therapy. Unfortunately, this isn’t the case for many people with mental illnesses because there are stigmas associated with mental illness. Stigmas are negative and false attitudes that society holds against a group of people, which can lead to discrimination and prejudice.

Some common stigmas associated with mental illness involve:

  • People thinking mental illness isn’t a real illness
  • Mental illness isn’t common—people that have it are unique and different
  • People with mental illnesses can just “pull themselves out of it”
  • Mentally ill people are dangerous, violent, crazy, and unstable
  • Mental illness is a result of personal weakness
  • Having to see a psychotherapist means something is wrong with you or that you’re not “normal”

These, of course, are not true. Mental illness is very real and is very common. Studies show that 1 in 4 adults experience a mental illness within a given year.

As a result of these stigmas, there are harmful effects. For instance:

  • Insurance companies do not adequately cover mental illness
  • People with mental illness become reluctant to seek help
  • They may isolate themselves from family and friends due to shame and embarrassment
  • Harassment, bullying, and violence
  • Fewer job and education opportunities
  • Misrepresentation of mental illness in the media

bill-clinton-mental-illness-stigmaIf you are struggling with mental illness, know that you don’t need to fall victim to the stigmas that society upholds. They believe in stigmas because of a lack of understanding and a lack of knowledge on the topic. You don’t need to be ashamed or embarrassed. Seek psychotherapy treatment, just as you would seek medical attention if you broke your leg. In order to reduce these stigmas on mental illness, we all need to work together to educate the public about it. Share your experiences with mental illness—the more it remains hidden, the more reinforcement you give to the stigmas.

If you or a loved one live in Manhattan or Bergen County New Jersey and are in need of therapy, the psychiatrists, psychologists, psychiatric nurse practitioners or psychotherapists at Arista Counseling can assist you. Contact our Bergen County, NJ or Manhattan offices of psychologists, psychiatrists, and psychotherapists at (201) 368-3700 or (212) 722-1920 to set up an appointment.  Visit http://www.acenterfortherapy.com for more information.

Written By Kassandra C.
Sources: http://www.mentalhealth.wa.gov.au/mental_illness_and_health/mh_stigma.aspx
 http://www2.nami.org/factsheets/mentalillness_factsheet.pdf
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