End the Stigma Associated with Mental Illness

No one knows exactly how many people with severe mental illness live what appear to be normal, successful lives, because such people are not in the habit of announcing themselves. These individuals are busy juggling responsibilities along with hiding dark, emotional feelings that threaten to burst forth unexpectedly at any moment.

The stigma of mental illness causes many people with such a diagnosis to think of themselves as victims, snuffing out the one thing that can motivate them to find treatment: hope. Mental illnesses include depression, anxiety, substance abuse, PTSD, alcoholism and eating disorders. It is not uncommon to have co-occurring disorders, such as depression and addiction. Nor is it uncommon to be a teacher, business owner, athlete or some other professional, who struggles with these mental health issues.

Elyn R. Saks, a professor at the University of Southern California, School of Law who chronicles her own struggles claims:

“There’s a tremendous need to implode the myths of mental illness, to put a face on it, to show people that a diagnosis does not have to lead to a painful and oblique life. We who struggle with these disorders can lead full, happy, productive lives, if we have the right resources.”

Too often people who suffer with mental disorders eventually end up criminalized or put into the crumbling and ineffective health care system. Tragically, many people end up in care that provides treatment by workers with minimum qualifications or training to meet the patients’ needs. The right treatment program is important for successful recovery or management.

If you our someone you love suffers from mental illness and addiction, search for a quality program with a treatment model that addresses the underlying issues that caused both the substance abuse and co-occurring mental disorder(s). Treatment should be holistic, evidence-based, and individualized for the best long-term outcomes. Professionals should use a positive psychological approach that does not focus on what is wrong with you, but provides you with a choice of resources that will allow you to choose what will be right for you to build the best life possible.

Getting better is all about creating an atmosphere that will encourage healing and growth. Understanding mental illness better can help end the stigma associated with it.