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How To Overcome The Mental Health Stigma & Thrive

Lazy, crazy, or scary? There’s no limit to the stigma surrounding mental health.

From believing that people with mental health issues are dangerous, to thinking it to be a simple choice of “just don’t worry and relax”. Many people fail to understand the long list of difficulties that arise from mental health struggles. A lot of fear, shame, and ignorance are involved when talking about mental health.

Shame resulting from mental health stigma can make people feel even more alone with what they are dealing with. As if that wasn’t enough, being aware of how they are labeled can prevent people from seeking help and finding relief sooner.

Since so many people are afraid to talk about their mental health, it’s quite common to get information about mental and emotional disorders from TV shows and movies. Unfortunately, these portrayals aren’t always the most nuanced or sensitive. It’s not uncommon to find a character whose serial killing spree is “explained” by their Dissociative Identity Disorder as a twist, or a character with PTSD or Personality Disorder being shown as abusive with no redeeming qualities. While the past few years have given us some quality shows that discuss mental health in a more positive way, things still aren’t perfect. Representation matters. If all we see as examples for depression (for one) are white teenage girls who cut themselves, it influences the way we view the disorder. Some people may even feel that if they don’t follow the same mold, it’s unlikely that they are experiencing depression at all.

Mental health stigma dictates how we talk about it. Since the conversation is lacking, people who have little knowledge about mental health often have no idea how to support their friends and family. For someone dealing with addiction or anxiety, it’s difficult to reach out for support and feel like talking to a wall. When you share your struggle, the last thing want to hear is “it sounds like you’re just lazy” or “cheer up, things aren’t so bad.”

It’s true that we can’t change the whole world. However, there are things you can do to thrive in your personal life when dealing with mental health issues.

I talked to Rwenshaun Miller about recovery and living with bipolar disorder in the following video. He talks about his experiences dealing with stigma, as well as changes he made in his life to thrive. Once again, special thanks to him for sharing his story and doing his part to eliminate the stigma.


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