Stamping out the stigma

Would you be surprised to learn that mental health and substance abuse disorder diagnoses are more prevalent than heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, migraines, osteoporosis and asthma? In 2012, there were an estimated 43.7 million adults aged 18 or older in the U.S. living with some form of mental illness the previous year, representing 18.6 percent of all U.S. adults. Despite these statistics, many people are afraid to talk about their experiences or to seek help. Why is there such a stigma?

Stamp Out Stigma explains that people have negative views about certain things because they are simply ill-informed. For others, being uneducated about the topic can lead to feeling uncomfortable when discovering someone in their family, a friend or a co-worker has a mental health issue because there is a lack of understanding that there is treatment. Some believe that mental health disorders are “your own fault” or you can “get over it.” It is these misconceptions and the lack of knowledge that create a stigma about mental health.

With May being National Mental Health Month, the good news is that we are starting to talk more about the subject, although there is still much to do. Take a moment and visit Stamp Out Stigma to learn about their purpose and anticipated outcomes. Their mission statement drives home what has for so long been at the root of many misconceptions — “This campaign challenges each of us to transform the dialogue on mental health and addiction from a whisper to a conversation.”

Another helpful resource is the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), where you can find information on types of disorders, their treatments, and how to go about getting help.

Sources: Stamp Out Stigma; NIMH