NOUN. A mark of disgrace associated with a particular circumstance, quality or person.
So let’s dig a little deeper on the subject of stigma. Why do you think we still have a stigma lingering around mental health? When we look at mass media and how mental health is portrayed, we can look to movies and even social media highlighting the rise and fall of popular stars like Britney Spears. Often times, those snapshots fed to us are blown out of proportion or simply inaccurate, and yet they can shape our thoughts and perceptions around mental health.
If you look at mental health for what it is – a health issue related to a person’s psychological and emotional well-being, sometimes connected to a chemical imbalance, it seems odd to have a stigma associated with it. It would be safe to say that we don’t have similar stigmas tied to Type 1 Diabetes – a health issue that results from the pancreas not producing enough insulin, or a person with an irregular heart beat who needs a pacemaker to stabilize their heart rhythm.
When you look at the statistics around the prevalence of mental health, specifically in Maine, it is evident that it is a significant issue that requires our attention, support, resources and compassion.
Removing stigmas around mental health is the first step in turning around these numbers and making a positive impact in our community. By removing the shame of a mental health condition, we open the doors to conversations, resources and healing. Because this shift does not happen overnight, it’s important to continue to be vigilant in our awareness of both the need and the resources available.
The more we know, the better we can do, to shift perceptions, increase awareness, normalize mental health, and support and care for those in our community.