Why is it sometimes so hard to talk about — and admit — any mental health issues we have?
JOPLIN, Mo.–“I think we need to be a little more open minded about mental health conditions and educate ourselves,” explained Ozark Center Licensed Professional Counselor Stephen McCullough.
The stigma surrounding mental health issues can leave many people afraid to speak up when they’re struggling.
“You can’t really scan or X-ray and see that there’s something wrong,” McCullough added. “And, so they seem to think, or associate it with a personality flaw.”
But, of course, McCullough says it’s not a personality flaw at all.
“The more we know and the more that we understand the struggles that people may have — and make it a little more open, so that people feel free to seek out services, seek out help.”
Unfortunately, popular culture — like how mental health issues are portrayed in some movies — doesn’t help either.
“That is one of the things we look at. It might be entertaining, but then I think it does perpetuate that stereotype.”
So, he says it’s important to get rid of the stigma. Because, admitting something in you is not okay and treating an issue, while it’s not as big of a crisis, will help in the long run.
“When things are smaller, we have better treatment opportunities than if it’s left untreated and it becomes a much larger issue,” said McCullough.
Thankfully, educating ourselves about mental health is easily accessible.
“There’s a lot of resources available. There is NAMI, which is a grassroots organization and they focus a lot of education.”
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration is also a valuable resource.
“Coping with mental illness takes some practice. It takes some education. We can give people a lot of good tools that they can use.”
Because the truth is — the statistics surrounding mental health in America speak for themselves.
“We know that 1 in 10 children experience a mental health condition in their lifetime, and 1 in 4 adults have experienced mental health conditions,” said McCullough.
If you or someone you know is struggling with their mental health and needs someone to talk to, we urge you to call the Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-TALK.