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  • Writer's pictureMelissa Adkins

Reducing the stigma of mental illness: what it is, what it is not

Updated: Aug 22, 2023

“Mental health illnesses are not an excuse.” Now, repeat it with us… “Mental health illnesses are not an excuse!”

Since we have your attention, you’d be surprised by the number of people that still think mental health illnesses are taboo, full of stigma, or otherwise excuses. We’re here to scream from the hilltops that it’s just not true. And we’ll break it down for you.

Struggling with a mental health illness is a lot of things, most of which are not pleasant for the person experiencing them, as well as those they come into contact with. The number one thing to remember is that mental health illnesses are often invisible – as in, you don’t see everyone struggling with a mental health illness running through the streets naked screaming things that don’t make any sense.

People who struggle with mental health illnesses aren’t just “crazy.” They’re actually very normal people, leading very normal lives, aside from the fact that they have some sort of brain imbalance. At its core, that’s all mental illness really is and, most of the time is well managed with a combination of therapies and/or medications.

You’d probably never know that 1 in 4 adults suffer from a mental health illness. That means there is a very good chance that someone you know, and love, has one. That also means it’s not as taboo as most people think and should be normalized the same way we normalize things like the common cold, or more serious medical conditions, like cancer.

In the same way you would treat the common cold with a mixture of personal intervention and medical intervention. For example, having a hot bowl of soup, taking the day off work, and taking some medications to help with your symptoms. Or for people who have more serious medical conditions, like cancer. They likely require interventions a step above most. Mental health illnesses are managed in the same ways.

Sometimes, people need a break from their daily lives when they’re having a mental health episode and others rely on a daily pill to help keep symptoms at bay. In more serious cases, some individuals will have to receive in-patient care or live in a psychiatric facility. All-in-all, there are a lot of things to understand about what mental health is. But I think we’ve done a great job at making it clear what it is not. Now, return to line one if it doesn’t make sense yet!

If you or someone you know is struggling with mental health or substance use issues, we can help. Contact us at Adult Family Health Services to learn more about our services.

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