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Mental Health Stigma: Answers to Common Questions

June 24, 2020

Everyone faces challenges in life, and for some people, those challenges can affect their mental health. Going through a pandemic may add to that pressure. One out of every five people experience a mental health condition, according to the National Institute of Mental Health.
About 75% of those with a mental health condition feel emotions resulting from stigma, according to Beacon Health Options (Beacon), a behavioral health services company. Stigma means the negative and often unfair beliefs that an individual, group or society has about something. It can cause fear and shame. It can make a person feel embarrassed and afraid to seek help.
To help promote a broader understanding of mental illness, Beacon has answers to several common questions.
What is a mental health condition?
It is a mental, behavioral or emotional disorder. There are many types of mental health conditions, including:
  • Depression
  • Anxiety disorders
  • Bipolar disorders
  • Mood disorders
  • Personality disorders
  • Psychotic disorders
Are there any signs a person could be experiencing a mental health condition?
As with a physical health condition, there are signs to watch for:
  • Sudden social issues
  • Problems at work or school
  • Changes in sleeping, eating or self-care
  • Excessive drinking or drug misuse
  • Mood changes
  • Talk or thoughts about suicide
How do you get help?
If you think you need help, contact a doctor, friend, family member, or anyone you trust. Contacting your primary care doctor is a good first step. Depending on your situation, you might be referred to a mental health or substance use disorder professional who can work with you to find the right care and make a treatment plan. This can include therapy, medication, nondrug care, or a combination of these.
How do you refer to someone with a mental health condition?
People with mental health conditions should be treated the same way as those without mental health conditions and given the same respect. Avoid language that is demeaning.
How can you help someone with a mental health condition?
Treat the person as you would any family, friend or coworker who is sick:
  • Be a good listener and ask what you can do to help.
  • Lend a helping hand in seeking treatment or talking with family about their mental health condition.
  • Learn as much as you can about the mental health condition and help find resources.
For extra support
  • If your benefits are administered through your employer, you may have an Employee Assistance Program (EAP). EAPs can help you access resources for emotional health, managing stress, and coping with anxiety and depression.
  • If you feel overwhelmed, you can call the toll-free SAMHSA Disaster Distress Helpline, 24/7, at 1-800-985-5990.
Your mental and physical health are equally important. If you need mental health support, please reach out to a health professional and use the resources and tools available to help you.

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