Mental Health and Stigma: Shame and Therapy

It’s 2017 and there’s still so much stigma surrounding mental health. I’m not saying we’re still living in the Victorian era exactly, but lots of people just don’t take it seriously at all. Many people are ashamed of their mental illnesses or feel like they can’t talk about mental health whatsoever. It’s time to change that! I thought I’d play my part by attempting to debunk some common negative tropes associated with mental health on my blog. Today, I’m going to be touching upon the topics of shame and therapy.

[Disclaimer: I am obviously not a doctor or professional. I’m just someone who’s had experience dealing with a mental health problem and wants to make others feel less rubbish about their own]

The Shame Game

Having a mental illness isn’t your fault. No really, it isn’t your fault – I have science to back it up (science!) According to MedicineNet, ‘Although the exact cause of most mental illnesses is not known, it is becoming clear through research that (many mental illnesses) are caused by a combination of genetic, biological, psychological, and environmental factors – not personal weakness or a character defect…’ The Huffington Post also has some good examples of studies done on anxiety, depression, schizophrenia, and other mental illnesses. In the same way you wouldn’t shame somebody for having a broken leg, you shouldn’t feel ashamed about having a mental health condition. If anything, you’re pretty damn strong to be dealing with it in the first place. Be proud of any steps you’ve taken towards overcoming it and improving your life in the long run.

Therapy Stigma

Depending on your situation, you may consider going to therapy to help with your mental health. Whilst therapy can work wonders for many people, lots of people are embarrassed by the prospect of going. It’s hard to blame them when there’s still so much stigma surrounding counselling (at least where I live anyway).  For many people, the things they’ve learnt about therapy have simply come from what they’ve seen in the media. Unfortunately, the media doesn’t always represent things entirely accurately. Therapy is often portrayed as useless or merely used as a punchline rather than something that could actually (gasp!) help people. What’s more, the people who go to therapy are often called names like ‘crazy’ and made to feel like they’ve ‘failed’ at life in some way. Although therapy by no means works for everybody, it makes me sad that some people who could potentially get help may feel shamed out of doing so.

Going to therapy does not make you ‘weird,’ so don’t feel ashamed about going. At the end of the day, your mental health is a lot more important than some ignorant comment someone makes about counselling, so don’t let anyone hold you back. Choosing to seek help is actually a very strong decision to make (especially when there’s so much negativity surrounding it). It means you have chosen to take a step towards dealing with your condition and giving yourself a happier life in the future. So go you!

I hope this helped some of you feel a little better. Thanks for reading,

ranterwrites xo


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