Mental illness in the United States continues to rise. In 2019 the National Institute of Mental Health reported that one in five adults lives with mental illness. As the result of the COVID-19 pandemic, people are under increased amounts of pressure and, in most cases, are isolated from their pre-pandemic support network. In a recent article, The Atlantic declared, “The mental-health crisis of the pandemic is real.” Individuals at all levels are being affected, including families. Since the pandemic began, twenty-four percent of parents have reported being diagnosed with a mental health disorder.
Despite how widespread mental illness is in America, misconceptions about mental illness continue to exist. Individuals with mental health conditions often feel stigmatized by others once they reveal their illness. When this happens, some people find a lack of understanding by family, coworkers, and employers.
The Silent Illness
Mental illnesses include several different conditions such as depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and more. By applying biological psychology, which studies the relationship between psychological processes and the underlying physiological events, new and more effective therapies are becoming available for mental health patients. Diagnosing and treating, however, is dependent on individuals being willing to seek treatment.
Many people fear that seeking help will confirm that there is something wrong with them. This is because of the cultural stigma generated by the media, individuals, and society in general.
Due to the intense stigma attached to mental illness, it is a topic that is hidden and silenced. The silence surrounding it is what allows the stigma of mental illness to continue.
In a recent story by USA Today entitled “I wish I could live a normal life: What your friend with an anxiety disorder wishes you knew,” several individuals spoke openly about their struggles with mental health.
Susan Roylance, who USA Today interviewed, shared her experience. “Anxiety, just like a physical ailment, is real. It causes real, physical symptoms, and if you can’t support or understand or help a person, don’t make fun of them, don’t make light of what they are suffering.”
Christina Morales, who suffers from anxiety and shared her story as part of the article, offered these words of advice. “I’d like people to know it’s not their fault. It doesn’t mean we’re weak or stupid. Best thing is with treatment; it’s manageable. With teletherapy, a lot of the stigma goes away.”
What You Can Do to Overcome the Stigma of Mental Illness
- Refuse To Give In- Don’t let others define you and make you believe that you are broken or beyond repair. Remember, your disorder is not your fault. Push back again the notion that your condition is a sign of personal weakness.
- Seek treatment- Don’t let the fear of being labeled with a mental health disorder prevent you from seeking help. Treatment can reduce your symptoms and significantly improve your quality of life. If you need assistance finding support, you can type “psychiatrist near me” in your web browser or mobile phone application to see a list of local providers. Once you find a provider that fits your needs, be sure to book an appointment.
- Don’t Become Your Illness- You are not your illness. Rather than saying “I’m bipolar,” say “I have bipolar disorder.”
- Don’t isolate yourself- While you might be reluctant to tell anyone about your diagnosis, your family and friends can offer you support. Consider joining a support group such as National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) or programs in your local area.
- Speak Up & Out- Follow the examples of Susan Roylance and Christina Morales by sharing your story with others. It will provide courage to those facing similar challenges and educate others about mental illness.
Looking For Help?
If you are looking for mental health support in the Costa Mesa, CA or Newport Beach area, call our office at 949.743.1457. We offer both in-person and telehealth services.
We offer a wide range of psychology and psychiatry services at the Brain Wellness Institute. Some services offered include behavioral therapy, neuropsychological testing, ADHD and autism evaluations, transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) therapy, treatments for patients suffering from depressive disorders or OCD, and more.
Our practice includes a variety of clinicians, from psychologists and psychiatrists to nurse practitioners. Our team members and clinicians are active members of the mental health community, participating in many different associations such as the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology. Our office is located at 940 South Coast Drive, Suite 225, in Costa Mesa, California.