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Mental Health Stigma: Am I Weak For Needing Help? 

Mental Health Stigma: Am I Weak For Needing Help?

Imagine living in a world where persons were not shunned for or felt the shame of stigma attached to having a mental illness. Better yet, imagine living in a world where 95% of the world’s population was well-read on mental health. Euphoric. People with mental illnesses are often seen as social pariahs who belong in a mental institution because they are “mad” or “crazy.” and that’s where mental health stigma begins.

One can only dream that people would be knowledgeable of the fact that mental illness is something much deeper than what society labels it as. According to the National Alliance of Mental Illness, mental illness is seen as a disorder that affects a person’s thinking, behavior, feeling or mood. It can vary from depression to schizophrenia, and as such, various forms of mental illness cannot and should not be equated as the same thing.


Persons who suffer from mental illness are affected twofold; they face the symptoms of the disorder that has found a way to be their best friend, and they also encounter the stereotypes and stigmas associated with the said disorder. It has been theorized that persons who are mentally ill often identify and acknowledge the negative views on the disorder and eventually develop “self-stigma.” Self-stigma is the pre-judgment in which people with mental illness turn against themselves, causes a lack of faith in their prognosis which will only lessen their chance of recovery.

We must remember though, that coming out of our comfort zones and asking for help is never an easy task to do, especially when we are hurting. Persons would rather keep all their emotions bottled up instead of getting the attention that they really need. Is this a good idea? Not really, but we are humans after all.

Picture yourself filling a bottle to the brim with soda, then shaking it and placing it down for a while hoping that everything will be fine. Only to be surprised when you open the bottle, it explodes, and the contents spill all over the place. Yikes. That is exactly what will happen when we keep all of our emotions and feelings to ourselves without a pathway for release. Bottling your emotions will always take a toll on you. It does not matter how strong you think you are, it will humble you!

How does stigma prevent people from seeking help for mental health issues? How can we break the mental health stigma associated with mental illness?
Photo by Alex Green on


Society often disregards people with psychiatric disorders significantly more than persons with physical disabilities. As a result of the widespread lack of knowledge and understanding, persons tend to be under the impression that it is a walk in the park—that is far from the truth. Disorders such as depression and schizophrenia can be just as life-threatening as any other physical disability or disease.

Look at Kate Spade, for example, a well-known fashion designer and businesswoman who appeared to have everything that she could possibly want- her business is superb, she has a wonderful life, everything just seemed to be going upwards for her…yet she still ended her life. This just goes to show that you can have everything in the world and still feel empty. Although Kate had access to resources to help her with depression and anxiety, her older sister, Reta Saffo revealed that she was still fearful of what it would do to her brand had the public caught wind of it. So, as you can see, it is obvious that the stigma associated with mental illness needs to be broken — mental health is just as serious as physical health and one should not be viewed as weak for wanting to get better!


What the public can do to break the mental health stigma associated with mental illness: 

  • Talk Openly About Mental Health
    • Create platforms that convey awareness to the various forms of mental illnesses.
  • Be Conscious of Language
    • Be mindful of the terms that we use when speaking about someone with a mental illness or about the illness overall—do not use ableist terms such as “mad” and “crazy.”
    • Try to remember that we are people before the illness, and the illness does not define who we are. For example, instead of saying “the depressed girl” say “the girl with depression.”
  • Encourage Equality Between Physical and Mental Illness
    • Understand and accept that although they are different, they require the same attention and respect; just as we would not belittle someone for having cancer or diabetes, we should not belittle them for having depression.

What the person being affected can do to break the stigma associated with mental illness: 

  • Choose Empowerment Over Shame
    • Choose not to let the disability define you, but instead make it your stepping stone to building yourself.
    • Love and view yourself in a positive light! Don’t let society dictate how you should be and how you should react.
  • Be Honest About Treatment
    • Do not feel disempowered if someone asks if you go to a doctor for help, live in your truth and tell them “Yes I do.” A person who must go to the doctor regularly for physical reasons are not ashamed to tell others, so why should we?
  • Don’t Harbour Self- Stigma
    • Aspire to be your best self and not hide away from society out of shame; volunteer at a shelter, go out with friends and have some fun, take yourself on a date.
    • Believe that mental illness is not your fault and that life can get better.

“It’s up to you today to start making healthy choices. Not choices that are just healthy for your body, but healthy for your mind.” 

― Steve Maraboli,

To answer the question posed, we are not weak for needing help. It takes a lot of willpower to deal with everything on your own, but it also takes a lot of strength and courage to acknowledge that yes, I need help, and yes, I am willing to be vulnerable to get the attention and care that I know I require and deserve. Stay strong!

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