Across the globe, people, companies, leaders, and commoners have slowly begun taking baby steps to support people struggling with mental health. Oftentimes, we stand in our own way, restrict ourselves from seeking help for fear of being judged, and shy away from participating in wellbeing initiatives, only moving further away from realizing our full potential. This is called self-stigmatization in the world of mental health.
Self-stigmatization refers to feelings of shame and guilt in regard to one’s own mental health struggles.
Self-stigmatization can be detrimental to your mental health. It takes many forms. Here are some common signs to check if you have been self-stigmatizing yourself:
- Increasing feelings of self-doubt and low self-esteem
- Increase in social isolation leading to harm in relationships
- Feeling unworthy of achievements and praise
- Constantly feeling discriminated against, ignored, or not taken seriously
- Believing in inevitable failure in life regardless of the amount of effort can result in self-sabotage
- Increasing feelings of hopelessness and in extreme situations, suicidal ideation
Self-stigmatization can discourage you from seeking the help you require. Thus, the journey to recovery may take longer. A study found that the higher the self-stigmatization, the less chances of recovery. Hence, it is crucial that we take the first step in assessing how we feel on a daily basis, our habits, and their impact on our wellbeing, identify our need for emotional support, and reach out for professional help whenever required.
Here are some strategies to overcome self-stigmatization, while encouraging self-acceptance and wellbeing.
Once you observe your self-stigmatizing behavior, take time to find out its root cause. Oftentimes we are exposed to media filled with harmful myths on sensitive topics. Common societal perspectives and narratives only hush mental health struggles and perpetuate negative stereotypes. This makes it harder for us to address, analyze, and access help when needed.
According to research, 1 in 4 people have struggled with mental illnesses at some point in their life. It is important to realize it can affect people from all walks of life, and you are no different. Seek credible sources to replace these negative notions with knowledge enriched with facts. This will allow you to decrease frustration with yourself.
This can be a challenging journey and it is important to be patient. Embracing self-compassion can be the key to improving wellbeing in the long run. Be gentle with yourself, and allow for mistakes. Realize you are trying your best and that wellbeing journey is never linear.
Self-compassion is treating yourself with the same kindness, care, and understanding you would offer to a friend facing similar challenges.
During this journey, remember you too are worthy of empathy and care you would offer to others.
When things get difficult, seek support. Challenging times require support from close friends and family. Going through this alone may introduce more harm. It may feel alienating which can hinder your journey. Reaching out to mental health professionals can facilitate the journey as well. They are trained professionals equipped with the toolkit to guide you.
Join support groups to connect with others with similar experiences. This will provide a sense of validation and belongingness, reminding you that you are not alone. Manah Wellness offers confidential counseling services with our expert counselors with years of experience. You also have 24/7 access to our emotional helpline number to reach out and get help no matter what you're going through.
Breaking the Silence
Openly engaging in discussions about mental health can help reduce stigma within yourself and amongst others. Talking about mental health openly in the workplace is still a challenge. Younger workers are nearly twice as likely to discuss mental health (62%) than the older demographic (32%) according to a study conducted by APA. Sharing your story can be empowering and normalize these discussions for the future. It starts with you, and when more people realize help-seeking is normal, you develop a vocal, empathetic, and caring community around you.
It is important to remember overcoming self-stigmatization is a gradual process. By challenging negative beliefs, practicing self-compassion, seeking support, breaking the silence, and engaging in self-care, you can foster self-acceptance and promote your mental and emotional wellbeing.