breakdown of the middle ground.

Coming out of an entirely different closet…the one of mental illness

Attempts to end this discrimination are being lead by strong individuals, in the public eye, and by everyday people. Changed perception comes through increased knowledge and visibility.

People need to be taught that mental disorders don’t come from places of personal weakness, and don’t make everyone violent or unpredictable. They need to be made comfortable in seeking help. (Two thirds of sufferers in need of treatment do not seek it. ) Even more importantly open, honest visibility helps others with the illnesses themselves to stand up without shame.

Negative stigma’s of this variety aren’t just external, they’re internal. Who wants to think of themselves as crazy…? When feelings of guilt, shame, or a notion that you’re somehow weakened for needing help are thrown in the mix, it only reinforces the negative feelings.

Isn’t it always the case that telling the ones you love is the hardest thing to do? This isn’t any different. And ignorance towards the idea of mental disorders can to be hard to deal with; some people may not even believe mental illnesses exist. Americans particularly have vast misconception that all mental disorders can be simply be self-corrected with enough work.

Similar to the first step in admitting you have an addiction; your own acceptance is where it all begins. Examine your own feeling first and foremost. You have control over who you tell, so it’s okay to be cautious about it.

“There is no rule for who needs to know about your mental illness diagnosis, but sharing it with someone is a great way to get support.

The silence helps maintain the ignorance about mental illness.”


That being said,

“It doesn’t mean that it is always beneficial to open up indiscriminately about mental health, to your detriment. It would be wonderful if everybody came out.

But it is a very subjective decision and consequences should be considered. Society isn’t at the place of acceptance that it needs to be. Not everyone in the world needs to know if you struggle with diabetes or hypertension or some other illness. The same is true for mental illness. Those with the disorder, are the ones in charge, and should think about what the payoff is to share information about their mental health. For example, if you need to miss work to see a psychiatrist, you might want to tell your employer about what you are going through.”

When someone does react negatively, agree to disagree or try to educate that person. Share educational materials. Share your own experience. And to those on the receiving end of the information, think before you speak.

“Try to react the same way you would if you were told about a physical health problem that you don’t know much about. Avoid trying to be the hero or savior. Being empathic and understanding is one thing, but trying rescue someone is a completely different. You shouldn’t try to fix them. This is something that is way beyond your capacity.”

Treatment and support from others goes a long way; the mental illness journey is a rough one for everyone involved. Help is required, it’s critical down the path of recovery, management of ones condition, and ability to lead constructive and healthy lives. Support can and does come from strangers as well, who share in this unity of diagnosis. As corny as it sounds, sharing is caring.

–Posted By Eliza Barnett


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Filed under: bi-polar, Eliza Barnett, , , , , ,

3 Responses

  1. […] I read several articles and blog posts today with others writing again about the stigma of mental illness. I felt it even […]

  2. […] Coming out of an entirely different closet…the one of mental illness […]

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