I recall back in the university when I was a mental wellness ambassador;
One thing that stood out was the fact that most students requested that no one should know they are depressed and further insisted they do not want to join any support group for people will know what they are going through.
In my practice at Chiromo Hospital Group as a Hospital Psychologist, still I get the same concerns about what will my colleagues think of me once they know am mentally ill.
In mental health, stigma is when someone sees you in a negative way because of your mental health.
Self-stigmatization is the process in which a person with a mental health diagnosis becomes aware of public stigma, agrees with those stereotypes, and internalizes them by applying them to self and thus ending up thinking negatively about oneself.
Stigma from within worsens an individual’s mental illness and stops an individual from seeking help.
Ways of breaking the stigma from within
- Talk Openly About Mental Health
Encouraging equality between physical and mental illness whereby if you were diagnosed with a mental illness, feel free, talk about that appointment you have on Tuesday with your psychiatrist and psychologist without feeling ashamed, cause it is just the same as saying that you are going to a dentist.
Being able to talk about it will eventually make the people around you see the importance of mental health and they will support you.
2. Choose Empowerment over shame
Owning your life and story and refusing to allow others to dictate how you view yourself is very important.
Your mental health comes first and it is okay to seek help.
Jamie Brown stated, “I fight stigma by not having stigma for myself-not hiding from this world in shame, but being a productive member of society. I volunteered at church, I have friends, I am a peer mentor and a mom. I take my treatment seriously. I’m purpose-driven and want to show others they can live a meaningful life even while battling mental illness.”
Mental illness is like any other illness and should not be stigmatized.
Let’s normalize seeking help when we are not mentally healthy without shame.