Mental Illness and Shame
Two of our goals at the PTI is to raise awareness within the Northshore and Baton Rouge communities about mental health access and to reduce the shame and stigma associated with mental illness.
A recent report by the Huffington Post noted that almost a third of Americans who suffer from mental illness choose not to seek treatment because of fear of judgment. Simply talking about mental illness and recovery can make you out to be weak and unstable in front of friends, family, and peers at work. Pictures of crazy people in straight jackets abound and the news cycle is always going from bad news to more bad news about someone with depression or PTSD.
We want to partner with you and the community at large to combat these negative images associated with mental illness so that we can all improve our ability to live safe, healthy, meaningful, and productive lives.
If you have a mental illness, part of that means finding appropriate times and ways in which to share with others. It should be general expectation in any context, but especially at work, that you should be able to share without fear of shame or retribution. Remember that there isn’t always a clear cut answer, right or wrong way, to go about it. Take advantage of your support network, whether it’s a peer in the workforce, a boss, or your HR manager.
Ways To Combat Mental Health Stigma
- Remember that you’re not your illness.
- Practice telling friends and family first. Tell them how your illness affects you and what the diagnosis means to you. If you’re not sure, it’s OK to tell them that you’re still figuring it out . Offer a little bit of education so that they know how to best support you. It may mean giving someone permission to ask how you’re doing and others not too. No one wants a dozen people asking them how they’re doing every time they show up at a gathering or an event.
- Tell a colleague at work whom you trust for support.
- Tell a supervisor. If you feel like it would be helpful, see if there’s some ways that you can ask for reasonable accommodation while at work so that you can be more productive and less stressed. Emphasizing that you want to be a resource in the workplace by continuing to show loyalty and determination can help to inspire others who may need to come out regarding their mental illness.
- Find appropriate ways to invite others into a conversation about what you’re experiences are like. It’s OK to stand up for yourself if you feel that others are trying to “help” too much, which isn’t necessarily very helpful. Remember that one of the best ways to continue a conversation is to ask people questions (or to have them ask you questions) which go beyond a simple “yes” or “no” answer.
At the PTI, we’re here to help. We have two locations at Covington and Baton Rouge and we accept most major insurance carriers. Whether it’s a short term mental health development or a significant mental illness, we’re standing by and ready with the most up to date treatment methods, research, and technology. Please don’t hesitate to give us a call today.