Stigma Around Mental Health Hinders Recovery
By Faith Boersma, Consumer Affairs Coordinator, Wisconsin Department of Health Services
MADISON-May, National Mental Health Awareness Month, is drawing to a close, but that doesn't mean we can go back to sweeping the mental health issues and treatment under a rug.
My name is Faith Boersma. I am a working professional at the Wisconsin Department of Health Services and a student pursuing my Master's degree. I am a sister, a daughter, and an aunt. I also have a mental illness. I obtain ongoing medical care for my condition just as I would for any other chronic health condition. I have support from my family, my friends, and my co-workers. By attending to my mental, physical, and spiritual well-being, I live a rich and meaningful life in recovery. I work. I play. I create. I struggle. I celebrate... Just like you.
Roughly one fourth of the adult population in America is affected by mental health issues. Mental health treatment is highly effective, making recovery a reality for many people. Despite this, countless people continue to suffer alone, afraid to reach out for support because of the stigma surrounding mental health. Mental health issues are not signs of weakness - they are medical illnesses for which there is effective treatment and hope for recovery.
The scarring from stigma can be very powerful for individuals who struggle with their mental health. The internalization of judgments made by society can contribute to a paralyzing sense of shame that often prevents people from acknowledging their problems and seeking assistance. Mental health issues are not signs of weakness - they are medical illnesses for which there is effective treatment and hope for recovery.
Don't let the stigma of the very human condition of mental illness come between you and those you love. Learn the facts about mental health, and if you are struggling with a mental health issue, know that you are not alone and you have nothing of which to be ashamed. There is healing and hope! To find help in your area visit http://www.dhs.wisconsin.gov/MH_BCMH/index.htm.