Breaking Down the Stigma: Taking Control of Your Mental Health Symptoms

In today's society, there is a growing awareness of the importance of mental health. While progress has been made in recognizing the significance of mental well-being, there is still a lingering stigma surrounding it. One major aspect of eliminating mental health stigma is to stop using identified symptoms as a weapon or a crutch.

Diversity of Symptoms

It's crucial to understand that multiple individuals can experience the same symptoms but function on different levels. This realization should lead us to acknowledge the existence of different levels of care for those dealing with mental health challenges. Whether it's inpatient or outpatient care, the key is to take the next step and learn the skills and techniques necessary to better manage your symptoms, as they don't simply disappear on their own.

Not everyone necessarily requires a formal diagnosis, but everyone undoubtedly deserves accessible and affordable healthcare. Ensuring that healthcare is accessible and affordable is the foundation upon which we can build a society that genuinely supports mental health.

Once you've taken the first and second steps of acknowledging your symptoms and seeking the appropriate care, the next essential step is to follow up with the referrals provided by your physician. It is critical to emphasize that there should be no shame in seeking help, as "everyone experiences the symptoms, just on different levels."

Diversity of Experience

Acknowledging this diversity in experiences is essential. A person who is high functioning may not benefit from hearing simplistic encouragements like, "you're strong, you've got this." Similarly, a person who is struggling with their mental health doesn't want to be judged with comments like, "you must not have taken your meds today." It's equally unhelpful to tell someone in the midst of a crisis to "calm down" when they may be trying their best to do just that.

Managing Symptoms

At any level, seeking proper care and committing to it is essential because, as a recurring theme, "the symptoms don't just go away." Mental health challenges are not something that can be wished away; they require ongoing attention and care.

Choosing to avoid therapy or treatment, for whatever reason, can put a tremendous strain on everyone you come in contact with, from your children and peers to colleagues, extended family, and your significant other. It is important to recognize that the choice to seek help is not reciprocal in using a diagnosis to excuse irresponsible or undesirable actions. Instead, individuals should focus on learning to control their symptoms.

What does that control look like? It involves taking prescribed medication if applicable, attending therapy sessions, being active, and consistently applying the skills learned between sessions. It's a commitment to one's own well-being and a determination to build a life where mental health is treated with the same importance as physical health.

In conclusion, breaking down the stigma around mental health requires a collective effort to stop using identified symptoms against each other and instead recognize the unique challenges individuals face. Accessible and affordable healthcare should be available to everyone, and once on the path to better mental health, it's essential to follow through with care and actively manage one's symptoms. By doing so, we can create a society that genuinely supports and values mental well-being.

About Veronica Blaze

Veronica Blaze earned her Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Louisiana Tech University, and her Master’s in Industrial and Organizational Psychology from Grand Canyon University. She works with adolescents and adults, specializing in trauma and crisis management, as well as racial and health equity. She is skilled in neuropsychological evaluation, outpatient community services, and re-entry transitional services, and is the owner of Lifeologie Counseling Shreveport.

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