In 2019, according to the National Institute of Mental Health, nearly one in five Americans reported living with a form of mental illness. That means within any two estimated households across the country, at least one family member could currently be afflicted.
At LifeBrite Community Hospital of Early, we live and work in the same communities that you do. Our homes and families are next door to yours. And we care deeply about your entire wellbeing — including your mental health.
So if mental health challenges are right here in our neighborhoods, why are they so tough to discuss?
Stumped by Stigma
Fear of being judged and mistreated due to mental illness is very real. Even though we are far from the days when mental illness was equated with possession by evil spirits, according to the American Psychiatric Association, “prejudice and discrimination against people with mental illness is still very much a problem.”
How problematic? A study in World Psychiatry found that prejudices against those with mental illness may result in hostile behavior toward sufferers, withholding assistance, avoiding or terminating employment, and/or preventing individuals from exploring assistance and other life opportunities for themselves, among other punishments.
This mistreatment may not come from a single source, either. The American Psychiatric Association identifies three general types of stigma that someone with mental illness could encounter, including institutional (stereotypes embodied in laws or regulations), public (negative attitudes upheld by societies or groups of people), and self (shame that individuals have about their own condition). Many already wrestling with mental illness may find themselves living and working in areas where all three types of stigma are combined.
The discrimination isn’t felt only by mentally unwell individuals, either. It also impacts their family members, friends, and other loved ones, as well.
At a Loss for Words
Many times, the feelings and anxieties associated with a mental illness can be disorienting, and overwhelming. Identifying what’s going on internally may be difficult to do for yourself — let alone someone else.
But feeling equipped to express a condition doesn’t always mean others are able to handle or receive it. “Even in 2020,” writes Rohini Chatterji in HuffPost, “those with mental health concerns are perceived as being ‘weak’ or ‘dramatic’ by some.” Well-intended listeners may come off as dismissive, assuring that “Everything will be fine.”
Breaking the Silence
Even business associates can have a hard time with less-than-surface conversations — regardless of the subject matter’s severity. Amy Morin at Inc. recommends the following tips to alleviate almost any awkward conversation:
- Set aside time to speak in private
- Acknowledge the discomfort of the subject matter
- Be clear and direct
Writing things out beforehand may also help, as the Child Mind Institute suggests, along with checking the facts and being equipped with data. A qualified online symptom checker could provide a helpful resource if you’re not yet ready to discuss symptoms with a doctor or mental health specialist.
Above all, knowing the prevalence of mental health challenges can remind you that you’re not alone. In 2018, Harper’s Bazaar published a list of celebrities who have given voice to their mental wellness struggles. The number of names continues to grow, now including Demi Lovato, Billie Eilish, and Taylor Swift.
LifeBrite Community Hospital of Early is committed to your entire well-being. Whatever you’re going through, we’re here to help.
Learn More About LifeBrite
Atlanta-based LifeBrite, led by CEO Christian Fletcher, operates LifeBrite Community Hospital of Early, LifeBrite Community Hospital of Stokes, and Lifebrite Laboratories. For more about our specific services and facilities, visit our website or call 229-723-4241.