Combating the Stigma of Mental Illness


Stigma is one of the biggest barriers for improving our capacity for mental health as a community.

Throughout history, the main line of thought was to put “people with problems” in a closet away from everybody else.  All across the country, there is a growing awareness of mental health and the need for compassion for those struggling with disabilities.  As the attention focuses on bringing respect  to those with disabilities and mental illness, we want to help bring more of that compassion into our communities as well.

Mental Health Statistics And Stigma

According to NAMI, nearly 1 in 4 adults suffer from some form of mental illness each year.  For teens (13-18), about 20% have a diagnosable condition.  That’s a staggering percentage of the US population.  In the last 50 years, we’ve shifted towards giving them respect and dignity, however, we still have a ways to go.

Anyone who experiences mental health issues is still a person and shouldn’t face disgrace or humiliation for something that is beyond their control.  Even if part of their struggle is behavioral and within their control, shame and guilt doesn’t add up to much of a solution.  Most people with mental illness will experience some form of stigma, associating them as “less than” someone without mental illness.

We all have a responsibility towards each other and to those who are struggling to not let them fall victim to the stigmas which have surrounded mental illness for centuries, leading to hopelessness and doubt that help is available.

We also want to acknowledge that families of those who suffer from mental illness also struggle with the repercussions of stigma towards mental illness.  As a result, mental illness can go unchecked for a longer duration, especially if psychiatric treatment is viewed with suspicion and shame.  This only results in more unhealthiness and a more prolonged treatment than is necessary.

If you notice areas in your community where mental health stigma is causing harm to those who don’t get their voice heard, we encourage you to take up the charge of raising awareness.  Support groups exist to help provide that awareness.  Write to the editor of your local paper, especially if you see something that doesn’t sit right with you.  Whether you or a loved one struggles with mental illness, above all, remember that your voice counts.  If you or a loved one need help with mental illness such as depression, anxiety, PTSD or any other severe affliction, our offices in Covington and Baton Rouge are ready with open doors.