Mental health has had a long history of being stigmatized. But what exactly is stigma? What does it mean to be stigmatized? According to the Mayo Clinic, stigma occurs when someone views you in a negative way due to a distinguishing characteristic or personal trait that’s thought to be, or typically is, a disadvantage. Stigma can lead to discrimination and negative attitudes and beliefs toward those with mental or behavioral health issues are all too common.
Psychology Today breaks this definition down further by defining social stigma and perceived stigma. Social stigma is characterized by prejudicial attitudes and discriminating behavior directed towards mental health problems. Perceived stigma is the internalizing by the individual with the mental health issue of their perception of mental health matters.
Multiple harmful effects may arise from experiencing stigma, and can lead to one’s reluctance to seek help or treatment, a lack of understanding from family, friends, coworkers, or others, bullying, and more.
So why should someone seek therapy?
Many people may feel as though therapy is only reserved for those with “serious” issues. This attitude can minimize any stressful situations that someone can endure, and likewise reinforce the idea that anyone going to therapy is “crazy” or has some kind of condition.
There are also many people who feel that all therapy is “New Age” and fuzzy. While the therapist is there to help and generally guide people to be a bit more optimistic, there are many different treatment modalities and therapists whose operations vary.
Therapy is also so much more than “common sense.” Therapists are educated and can provide insight tailored toward you and your specific issues and goals, as well as suggest appropriate coping techniques. Therapy can be beneficial to a number of people for a variety of behavioral health concerns, and should not be stigmatized.
Tishanna Dillard, Marketing Operations Specialist
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