How to Destigmatize Mental Illness

It's natural for people to be afraid to seek help for their mental health. Opening up to others about your mental health and asking for help can be uncomfortable, painful, and embarrassing. It doesn't help that mental illness and therapy are often stigmatized by our culture. People have the impression that if you're mentally ill, you have less value as a person. They associate mental illness with words such as crazy, weird, or weak. This is unfortunate because people often go untreated because of these stigmas. As a result, they suffer when they could be regaining their mental health.

Here are six reasons to not be afraid to seek help for your mental health.
1. Mental health is just as important as physical health. As a society, we don't treat mental health with the same respect as physical health. When we're physically sick or injured, we almost immediately seek help from a doctor, but when we're struggling with our mental health, we often procrastinate and let our issues linger. We should be treating our mental health with the same care, respect, and urgency as we do with our physical health. Without our mental health, we can slip into depression. And without our mental health, we can miss out on true happiness. The consequences of failing to treat mental illness are serious. It can be argued that physical health is just a means to an end. We want to be physically healthy so we can be happy. Whereas mental health is more of an end in itself. So why not treat our mental health with the same respect as physical health?  For these reasons and many more, it is always worth it to take care of your mental health.

2. Mental illness doesn't define you. One of the root causes of the stigma of mental illness is the belief that it defines you as a less worthy person. Almost everyone is scared of being judged for their mental issues. That's why it's so important to relieve this fear by knowing that mental illness does not define you. No matter how severe your mental illness is, you will forever be a unique human being and a child of God, with intrinsic dignity/value, and you'll always be worthy of love. As a dignified human, you deserve to be helped and you deserve to regain your mental health.

3. Mental health can be heavily influenced by genetics and environment. A big reason why people are afraid to seek help is that they think it's their fault for developing a mental illness, therefore they think they will be judged as a weak or stupid person. They may not realize that sometimes developing a mental illness can be out of their control. Genetics and environment can play a big role in developing a mental illness. In these cases, it's not really their fault, therefore it doesn't mean they're weak or stupid, so they should have more compassion for themselves and worry less about being judged. However, it is important to know that in most cases, personal responsibility is a factor. People still need to take ownership of their mental health as much as they can. 

4. You don't need to do it yourself. While you need to take ownership of your mental health, this doesn't mean you can't ask for help from a professional. Asking for help doesn't make you weak or dependent. You don't need to prove your "strength" and "independence" by trying to fix your mental issues yourself. We don't call someone weak or dependent for hiring a plumber to unclog a drain. We live in a specialized economy where we hire professionals to help us with things we're not good at. Not everyone can be a mental health professional. Therefore, don't feel bad for seeking help from a professional. That's why they're professionals. They have been trained to help us better than we could help ourselves. Lastly, by asking for help when you need it, you are actually showing responsibility, humility, and strength.

5. Everyone struggles with mental health to a certain extent. When dealing with mental health issues, it helps to know that you're not alone. It's not that uncommon to have a mental illness. There's many other people who are going through your same struggles. Almost everyone struggles with their mental health every now and then. No one is perfect. Therefore, you shouldn't feel inferior for seeking help.

6. Many people will support you.  People often fear that almost everyone will judge them if they seek help for their mental health. But when they do finally get help, they're surprised to find out that many people are actually very supportive. People are more compassionate than we think. Our family and friends will most likely be very supportive and offer their encouragement, understanding, help, and love. There may still be people who judge you, but try your best to ignore these people. Know that their opinions are wrong and don't matter. The support you get from your friends and family will be enough.

Remember, even if one of these reasons isn't true for you, the other reasons will make up for it. Together, all of these reasons can give you enough courage to seek help. I hope this has helped you. If you know anyone who is struggling with their mental health, please share this with them.

By spreading awareness and talking more openly about mental health, we can help destigmatize mental illness! By destigmatizing mental illness, we can encourage more people to get the treatment they need. This will not only lead to a healthier and happier world, but it'll save lives as well!

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