Mathes: My take on getting rid of the stigma

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There is a stigma around the words “mental health” that doesn’t seem to be going away. So, what can we do about that? How can we make mental health and getting help more acceptable to all people?

I’ve heard people say that their parents don’t believe in medicated assistance so they won’t allow their kids to use the insurance to get medication for their needs. I’ve also heard people say that their parents don’t believe in professional therapy and therefore won’t help their children pay for those services. This is so discouraging to hear because there are so many people out there who genuinely need the help.

Mental health issues are not a disease. It’s not a contagious illness that, if left untreated, will infect others. However, it is just as important, if not more, than getting your flu shot every year or getting a regular check-up. Mental health issues can be life-altering and can affect someone’s everyday quality of life.

I was diagnosed with depression and anxiety when I was eight or nine years old. At that time, it was uncommon to hear of such a young person dealing with such major issues. My parents felt it would be best for me to see a therapist and a psychiatrist, who later prescribed me medication to help aid in the depression and anxiety. I’m still on that medication today, 16 years later.

To say that the medicine has cured me would be false. But, to say that it has helped me meet every day with a positive outlook, that would be accurate. Although I don’t attribute everything I feel and do to the medication—a lot of that came from years of therapy—I do think it helped significantly.

There are still days when I feel down and upset about absolutely nothing, but those tears of therapy mixed with the medicine help me get out of that depressive episode and live each day to its fullest. Without any of that, I would not be here today, writing this article.

I understand this isn’t always the case, though. Some people don’t have access to healthcare that will support their need for therapy or medication. Some people don’t have family members willing to allow them to use their health insurance. Others just don’t want to admit that they need help. And although cliché, admitting it truly is the first step in getting help.

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  1. —There is a stigma around the words “mental health”

    So you have been taught. Teaching stigmas is not all that difficult, recognizing the lesson and decllning to adhere to it is also easily learned.