Friday, February 21st, 2020

Stop the stigma … who’s with me?

Posted: Friday, June 5, 2015

By Katrina Ott, LCSW

Your friend is not depression. Your mom is not anxiety. You are not your mental illness. Research says 50% of people with mental illness do not seek treatment due to fearing judgment from others. Our society places illogical taboos on mental health issues. How many of you would share what happened at a doctor’s appointment or a dentist appointment with a friend or co-worker. But when say you went to therapy, there is a stigma attached to it.

Let me give you the 411 on mental health issues. Mental illness and mental disorders are conditions that impair how we think, how we feel and how we behave. They can interfere with our ability to enjoy life (being productive, enjoying relationships). However, someone can experience “mental health problems” without having a mental disorder. The signs and symptoms are not as intense or long-lasting; however, severe or mild, long lasting or transitory, these conditions are disabling and painful. Depression, eating disorders, bipolar, schizophrenia can be just as disabling as cancer or heart disease. WHOA! Many of us with physical problems would seek treatment immediately; it should be the same with experiencing mental health challenges.

If you are not feeling yourself, talk to someone. Find a friend, trusted co-worker or family member. I think the stigma exists because people don’t understand. They don’t understand what they don’t know. How would they know if no one says anything? Don’t let yourself get to the place you feel like you have to deal with this alone. We often think we can handle this, maybe our pride gets in the way, but the reality is sometimes we can’t handle it and that is okay.

So, do you get help or do you let an illogical stigma tell you what to do? This may be the first time someone has told you this (or maybe you need to tell someone you know) – You should never be ashamed when experiencing mental health problems. Get help before it gets worse. We at the Bowen Center have trained therapists that can help you when you are not feeling yourself, you and your spouse aren’t getting along, or your kid is driving you crazy. Our therapists will assess the symptoms and determine severity. They can verify if you have a clinical diagnosis and make recommendations for treatment. It’s best to talk to a trained professional because having difficulty concentrating can be a symptom of several disorders such as anxiety, ADHD, depression or relationship problems. Together, we create a plan or map to help you get where you want to be and how you want to feel.