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Stigma around Seeking Help for Mental Health

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With mental health related concerns at an all time high, those suffering from them often find themselves surrounded by the fear of being stigmatised which restricts them from seeking professional help.

Despite all the progress we make, mental health still remains as the most ignored and misunderstood aspect of one’s health. Due to a lack of any physical symptoms most of the times, there is little awareness of what a person suffering from any form of mental illness goes through daily, battling his/her own mind. Not being acknowledged and understood further aggravate their situations.

It may still have been bearable for them, had there only been ignorance surrounding it. But unfortunately, this ignorance and unawareness has led to the development of a stigma around mental illness. Those suffering from any of its form are looked down upon and not treated as any other ‘normal’ human being.

This deplorable condition of mental health restricts its treatment the most. Those suffering, fear getting professional help. The constantly hanging sword of public stigma often slowslows down their steps towards seeking help. “What if I get termed as ‘mad’ or ‘mental’?” said Kratika of Kamala Nehru College (KNC) when apprising about the reasons why she didn’t visit a professional during her days filled with acute anxiety.

Those having even history of ever undergoing psychological or psychiatric treatment are more often than not being judged as mentally and emotionally unstable or unfit for any leadership positions.

This public stigma is, thus, further hampering the awareness and betterment of the mental health scenario. The stigma is unfortunately not just public, but also self-inflicted wherein one labels himself/herself as unacceptable for having the need of seeking help to cure one’s mental health concerns. They find themselves struggling with low self-esteem and confidence for having developed a strong need of professional help. Sakshi from KNC says that the only reason she still hasn’t approached a psychologist is because she thinks it would be really helpless and weak of her to visit one. The already disturbing illness doubled with the lack of self-worth is one dangerous combination and becomes a never-ending dungeon, from which escape becomes even more difficult.

These two stigmas aren’t mutually exclusive all the time, for quite often it is the constant public stigma that gives birth to self stigma.

The lack of intervention of professional help can have dire consequences for those having a mental ailment. These stigmas denigrate the situation further. Thus, it becomes acutely pertinent to not just create awareness of mental health but also to normalise seeking help for those suffering.

Image Credits: Adam Easo

Shreya Agrawal

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Anushree Joshi is trying to be a writer by procrastinating most days and writing on some (productive) nights. This over-thinker studies English literature at your anti-national, feminist hotspot Lady Shri Ram College, and has strong opinions on why your #IAmHumanistNotFeminist attitude is the problem with the society and the system of patriarchy. She writes 1000-word articles, reiterating why To Kill a Mockingbird is the greatest lesson in empathy, and argues that Manto should be taught in schools and colleges. If you wish to rant or report or want me to write your story, mail me at [email protected]

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