Suffering in Silence - Breaking the Mental Health Stigma
Updated: Nov 1
Even though we have come a long way, there still exists a great deal of stigma surrounding mental illness in North American culture, and other cultures as well.
This stigma often prevents people from speaking up and getting the support they need and deserve as they feel ashamed or scared to admit that they are suffering.
It takes courage to speak up when you are struggling, especially if you live in a culture, or come from a family where the idea of mental illness is stigmatized.
This may be even more prevalent in some social classes than others, or in certain careers, where a high level of performance is demanded.
The truth is, everyone struggles with their mental health at some point in their lives, whether they are diagnosed with a mental health condition or not. This has become even more common since the COVID pandemic.
Historically, mental illness was stigmatized because we didn't understand why a person was suffering - the reason for the anguish or different behaviour. Some cultures believed the person was possessed and they were sent away, or locked up in an institution.
We have come a long way with modern psychology - we now understand there are cultural, physical and interpersonal causes of mental health concerns, and that everyone deserves support and access to care.
However, the stigma still lingers.
The irony is, our culture contributes to mental illness by perpetuating this stigma and the idea that our goal is to be productive and happy all the time, when in reality, that is not the truth; it's not the main reason we are here on this Earth.
You are so much more than your job, how much money you make.
You are allowed to have bad days.
For many people it may feel too scary to go against the grain, against the societal norms and speak up.
But here's the thing: we are only human; in any given day we can experience a wide range of emotions, and sometimes we have a hard time dealing with these emotions, especially if we are not given the skills to understand why we're having them or how to cope in a healthy way.
Because most of us are not taught emotional regulation skills in childhood, we cope the only way we know how - by avoiding the emotions - suppressing them, and distracting ourselves with things to make us feel better, whether that's food, shopping, social media or exercise.
However, emotions that are suppressed rather than addressed, eventually resurface, and can contribute to coping behaviours that have a negative impact on our lives and our relationships, even on our physical health.
That means, avoiding emotions won't make them go away; they need to be addressed and processed in order to heal.
That concept may feel foreign and uncomfortable to you, and that's ok.
That's where working with a clinician in a safe therapeutic setting is critical to moving through that initial discomfort and beginning the healing process.
Take the first step in breaking the stigma and getting the support you need by booking an intake call with one of our experienced clinicians.
We are a judgement-free, inclusive space for all people, and we welcome you with open arms. Let us be your anchor.