Despite all the advances we've made in understanding and accepting
anxiety and other conditions of mental illness, there remains some
stigma. Movies play a large part in supporting the stigma of
mental illness by depicting sufferers as maniacal killers and
masochists. Common expressions used in jokes and everyday language
include psycho, lunatic and crazy which merely help to reinforce
What exactly is the stigma of mental illness?
It's a negative reaction that society adopts against a person
or group of people who appear different from ourselves. Before
mental illness was so well understood as it is today, people with
anxiety or panic were avoided out of fear. Unfortunately, that
still occurs today.
People who are unfamiliar with anxiety and panic feel
uncomfortable when they are around people with these conditions
because they are unsure how to respond to them. In some cases,
it's not so much fear as it is disbelief that the individuals
can't just stop responding as they do to events in their lives.
Why can't they just "get over it" and move on?
Such attitudes have a detrimental effect on people with anxiety
and panic. It can worsen the condition or make recovery far more
difficult than it needs to be. It's important, therefore, to learn
about these conditions. In the meantime, sufferers need help
coping with anxiety and the stigma of mental illness.
Coping with anxiety and the stigma of mental illness
It's not enough for the sufferer to comprehend anxiety and the
stigma of mental illness. The rest of society needs to do the same
so that these conditions no longer induce fear, avoidance and
Be selective of who you tell
One way for the families to cope with anxiety and the stigma of
mental illness is to choose who you will tell about your suffering
family members. You decide just how much you want those select few
people to know. It's best to share only with people you know
relatively well so you can modify your information accordingly.
Talk with people who understand
There are many people who are coping with anxiety and the
stigma of mental illness either because of their own condition or
that of someone they know or love. Often, other problems are
involved, such as depression and substance abuse. Seek out such
people who you can share with and learn from, as well as for moral
Surround yourself with supportive family members, friends
Maintain as many normal activities as possible will ward off
the negative results of social isolation often caused by the
stigma. People who close themselves off from society can suffer
depression and burnout. Stay active, participate in pastimes
you've always enjoyed or try new ones. An excellent way to
surround yourself with people who are coping with anxiety and the
stigma of mental illness is to join a local volunteer
organization. Ones that focus on mental illness issues might be
best for your particular situation.
Encourage the sufferer for working on recovery
There will be times when people will feel their struggle is in
vain. That's where you can help by praising their efforts without
patronizing them. Realize that finding the right treatment can be
difficult. There will be setbacks as they break free from their
condition. Show your support by helping them to feel good about
themselves and their progress.
Coping with anxiety and the stigma of mental illness can be
difficult and wearing on the sufferer as well as the supporters.
By learning about anxiety and stigma, you can help significantly
in their recovery.