Stigma is a negative stereotype or view of someone’s distinguishing characteristic or personal trait. Stigmatization is sadly common as individuals judge others based on perceived disadvantages ranging from race and gender to fashion or fandom.
Mental health conditions are no exception to these harmful beliefs and attitudes. To reduce mental health stigma, however, we need to understand what it is and how it manifests in daily life.
What is Mental Health Stigma?
According to the American Psychiatric Association, there are three common types of mental health stigma.
Public stigma is others’ harmful or discriminatory views toward mental health challenges and treatment. While awareness and sensitivity toward these issues have improved in recent years, many still judge those who struggle with mental health concerns harshly. Sometimes those individuals are close friends or family members of people struggling with mental health issues, which can reduce the likelihood that they seek treatment.
Self-stigma is internalized shame and reduced feelings of self-esteem and self-worth related to one’s mental health challenges. These powerful emotions can contribute to negative spirals into depression, anxiety, and substance abuse that exacerbate the original mental health issue.
Finally, institutional stigma is when public policies or private organizations limit opportunities for or discriminate against people with mental illness. Research has also found that social workers and health professionals may fail to provide adequate care if they are aware of a patient’s mental health conditions.
Why Reducing Mental Health Stigma is Important
Changing preconceived notions about mental health is difficult but important work. Identifying and pushing back against mental health stigma could help someone close to you – in fact, it could help more people than you realize.
According to research by Mental Health America, California has the highest prevalence of untreated adults with mental illness – more than 3.5 million people.
Individuals with these challenges deserve respect, dignity, and acceptance like anyone else. No one should be defined by their condition; they should be encouraged to seek treatment and healing.
Mariposa Women & Family Center’s Approach to Mental Health
The counselors and therapists that work with Mariposa believe that everyone deserves an opportunity to live a healthy life. Our mission is to provide the resources individuals need to restore the happiness, hope, and joy that mental health challenges and stigma have taken from them.
Mariposa’s therapy programs are designed to improve coping skills and ultimately restore inner peace. Whether you’re a woman carrying anxiety, a man struggling with depression, or a parent whose teen needs professional help, Mariposa’s holistic approach to mental health can help you shed the stigma and reclaim the life you deserve.
If you are struggling with mental health challenges, Mariposa Women & Family Center is prepared to help. Take the first step on your healing journey by contacting us today.