Erasing the Stigma of Mental Health Disorders – West Valley Counseling Center

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22 Sep

Erasing the Stigma of Mental Health Disorders

Discourse regarding mental health disorders is at an all time high, with celebrities and public figures talking about their struggles with anxiety and depression. These figures, such as Robin Williams and Caren Bowen (California Secretary of State) have brought the issue of mental illness to the forefront of many people’s minds. These discussions are the first step in really recognizing the prevalence of mental illness, and ways to help and understand the millions of individuals who suffer from depression and anxiety, and mental illness in general. One of the best ways to help those suffering from mental health disorders is to reduce the stigma of the disease, so that the real treatment can begin. For more cutting edge research on the origins of depression, a very common mental health issue, see Jonathan Rottenberg’s The Depths: The Evolutionary Origins of the Depression Epidemic.

The stigma regarding mental illness is more than just a general negative attitude. The stigma that comes with mental illness prevents individuals from seeking therapeutic and psychiatric help, and negatively impact life in a variety of ways. Those who go without treatment may be more likely to turn to suicide, drugs, or other dangerous coping mechanisms. More organizations than ever before are creating educational initiatives to give the real facts behind this disorder, but in order to promote real and lasting social change, we must all do our part.

First, its time to focus on the facts and move away from damaging stereotypes and myths that perpetuate the idea that mental health disorders are not medically recognized or as valid as other diseases. It is entirely possible to lead successful and healthy lives with mental health disorders if they are being treated properly. For example, actors such as Jon Hamm of popular television series Mad Men, Owen Wilson, and Disney star Demi Lovato have all battled with depression, and have spoken out about their experiences. Caren Bowen has also been very open about her battle with depression, all while fulfilling her duties as Secretary of State. These public figures have taken a leap towards a more educated society in which mental illness is not the defining factor of an individual. These celebrities are a perfect example that mental health issues can be treated and managed, if only those suffering will step forward. By spreading the accurate facts, we can reduce discrimination and stigma, which is crucial in encouraging those with mental health disorders to seek professional health.

The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) urges those with symptoms of mental illness to get evaluated in a timely manner. Putting off treatment for too long can result in self-harm or higher levels of depression or anxiety, as well as dysfunctional behavior in all areas of life.

West Valley Counseling Center offers counseling for a wide variety of mental health disorders, and more. For more information or to speak to one of our staff at the West Valley Counseling Center, please contact us at (818) 758-9450 or email us at info@westvalleycounseling.org

Sources:

http://calmhsa.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/12/Literature-Review_SDR_Final01-02-13.pdf

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1489812/

http://www.mendthemind.ca/stigma/seven-important-things-we-can-do-reduce-stigma-and-discrimination

West Valley Counseling Center is located at 19634 Ventura Blvd. Suite 212 Tarzana, CA 91356