What if you were to ask a group of friends or colleagues “How many of you have ever broken a bone?”
I’m sure they would not have thought twice about raising their hands if that were the case. Then I would have asked “How many of you have ever been diagnosed and treated for some form of mental or emotional disturbance?” I suspect none would have raised their hands, and there would have been an awkward silence.
Perhaps the stigma which continues to linger in our modern age is because the field of psychiatry is relatively young, compared to other sciences. Or perhaps it is because there tends to be an unrealistic expectation that anyone who is “competent” should not incur such types of problems.
The truth of the matter is: man, by his very nature, is imperfect, and mental health conditions can be inherited, just like so many other illnesses. Mental health conditions can also develop easily enough based on our ever-changing sets of life circumstances. Chemical imbalances stemming from a variety of bodily changes, such as hormonal, or thyroid, or a wide variety of other factors, can also bring on a range of psychiatric symptoms. All of these can happen to any of us at any time, whether we like it or not.
Why is it we don’t hesitate to contact our doctor when we have a physical problem, but hesitate to contact them when the problem is of an emotional nature? This is where the stigma comes in; that fear of what others might think of us. And that fear is based on a sense of shame, as if for some reason we are automatically buying into the negative stereotype of whatever label our symptoms might suggest.
As individuals we are far more than one or two labels might suggest. If we suffer from symptoms of anxiety or depression or a myriad of other potential psychiatric symptoms, does that make up the whole of who we are? Does that mean we are to automatically assume feelings of shame, inadequacy, or worse yet, label ourselves as a victim? If we break a leg do we not place our focus on the steps we need to take to heal, as opposed to just laying there as if nothing can be done?
Some progress has been made regarding the unfortunate stigma which has been placed on mental health or emotional problems, but we still have a long way to go. Every day we see the kinds of shortcomings each of us too often display, whether they can be labeled as a legitimate psychiatric condition or not.
The fact is, we have all exhibited unhealthy behaviors toward each other, and the challenge to improve our condition is always by degrees. We live in a world with a million shades of gray, and it does none of us any good to think strictly in polarized terms, as if everything should be black or white, all or nothing. We would all be wise to daily practice a greater degree of compassion to those in the world around us.
For more about mental health treatment, please contact Aurora Behavioral Health Services at 877-666-7223 or visit our web site at Aurora Behavioral Health Services
Aurora Behavioral Health Services offers complete mental health treatment options, provided by highly trained professionals in a caring, confidential manner to meet individual and family needs. If you or someone you know needs help, contact us — online or by phone at 1-877-666-7223 — as soon as possible.