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Mental Illness: Getting Help and Overcoming the Stigma

Environmental lawThe Toll of Mental Illness

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, there are approximately 43 million adults in the United States that have a mental illness. Mental illness can cause a huge burden on individuals with these disorders, as well as family and the community at large. Mental illness causes impairments in almost all areas of functioning. There are extremely effective treatments for individuals with mental illness. Unfortunately, many people do not seek treatment because of the stigma of mental illness and other factors. Learn what you can do to help yourself or a loved one with mental illness.

What is Stigma?

Stigma refers to false negative beliefs about someone or a group of individuals because of a personal trait or characteristic. Unfortunately, stigma surrounding mental illness is very common. Stigma can lead to many problems. It can make it difficult to find work, housing and even make friends. People may avoid those with mental illness because of false beliefs that they are dangerous or violent. When in reality, the majority of people with mental illness are not violent or dangerous. In fact, they are more likely to be a victim of a crime than to be violent themselves.

Stigma can cause individuals with mental illness to avoid seeking treatment. They may not want others to know that they have a mental illness. They may worry about what their family or friends will think. Or, they may be afraid of their employers finding out that they are in treatment.

Coping With Stigma

So, how do you cope with stigma? The first step is to seek treatment. You may not believe that you need treatment or you may be afraid to reach out. Don’t let your fear keep you from getting help. Treatment for mental illness can provide significant relief of your symptoms. The right treatment can greatly improve your personal and social life.

You may believe that a mental illness is a sign of weakness or that it is something that you can control with willpower. Neither of these things are true. Mental illnesses are medical conditions that can be treated. There are several things that you can do to help your condition improve. These include obtaining mental health therapy and reaching out to others with similar issues. Taking these important steps can help you manage your illness and live a happy, satisfying life.

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