Often what holds people who are suffering from a mental health crisis back from asking for help or speaking out about mental illness is the stigma…

Often what holds people who are suffering from a mental health crisis back from asking for help or speaking out about mental illness is the stigma with which it is associated. There are those who simply brush off the experiences that come with such a crisis as weakness in character or will, or worse, as simply an act for attention; to those who accept mental illness as valid disorders, they may react in fear to someone who discloses their illness. This is all probably painfully obvious to anyone who has been in this situation, but I feel it must be reiterated because there are still many out there who either discount and/or minimize the realities of mental illness.   We fear what we do not know well, and often mental illness is one of those problems which many tend to know little about. If someone is so frightened of mental illness, then why not try to learn more about it by reading about the information that is known? (Of course, when I say “mental illness” I’m referring to all the mood, anxiety, personality disorders and so on). This fear can be so disabling both to those who do have a mental illness (or illnesses) and to those who do not that any progress on the matter is hindered.   Of course fear is not the only source of this stigma; there are people also who discredit what they term the “mental health industry” altogether as bunk. I have my own qualms about what certain pharmaceutical companies and the health professionals who work with them do, but at the same time I’ve come to accept mental illness as a reality.   There are so many more things I’d like to say on this issue, but for now I’ll have to leave it at this because I have to find my own ways to articulate what should be done to combat stigma.   -Allyson