The negative stigma attached to issues of behavioral and mental health is the product of a long history of misunderstanding, exaggeration, and ignorance. In today’s world, many people believe that behavioral health issues, even extremely common ones like anxiety or depression, are somehow a sign of weakness.
Sensationalizing in news stories, tabloid magazines, and television shows make a point of referencing a history of mental illness in the background of a person who has committed a crime or violence. Other sources of stigma include societal factors, like the idea that asking for help is a sign of weakness, and that people who can “take care of themselves” are somehow stronger.
However, strength is not merely the measure of how much we can endure, but how we choose to deal with the problems we face.
Suffering from a behavioral health problem affects quality of life. Neurological and physiological sciences have proven that issues of behavioral health: addiction, depression, bipolar, phobias, PTSD, and more, are matters of biochemistry. With therapeutic techniques, well-managed medication, and behavioral modifications, behavioral health issues are treatable, and affected persons can live normal lives.
How can you help fight stigma?
- Respond positively to media you encounter that works to de-stigmatize behavioral health care.
- Respond to false statements about behavioral health conditions with truth.
- Share your own experiences with behavioral health conditions—both your own and those of people in your life. The more exposure the general public has to a positive understanding of behavioral health, the greater their compassion will be.