How Removing the Stigma of Mental Health Issues Can Help Patients
As a behavioral health management company working with healthcare providers of all sizes and scopes, one of our chief goals is to help each one do a better job of helping patients. With that in mind, there has been quite a bit of discussion in recent years about the stigma associated with behavioral health issues. We are firm believers that removing the stigma is one of the most crucial steps in helping patients achieve improved wellness.
In Jacksonville, Florida, a new mural was recently unveiled, painted in honor of a local man who lost his life after battling mental health issues. Commissioned by a nonprofit known as Hearts4Minds, the mural is part of a 12-strong series of local murals painted for the organization’s Murals with Meetings program.
Something as simple as a mural may not seem significant to someone with no personal experience with mental health issues. But to mental health patients and their families and caregivers a mural can offer a positive message that says that there truly is hope. We all need a little more hope in this day and age.
Stigma Discourages Getting Help
Stigmatizing mental health issues only contributes to people not getting the help they need. This is not different than people with physical disabilities not leaving the house because they feel stigmatized. Stigma is an inhibitor. Stigma robs people of their motivation and dignity. Which is why it is crucial to work on destigmatizing mental health problems and embracing the conversation outwardly to promote supportive messaging.
As a case in point, the Washington Post recently ran an article discussing the fact that obituaries are increasingly listing the cause of death as suicide. For far too long, there has been a certain stigma associated with suicide, a stigma so strong that survivors have resisted talking about how their loved ones died. But we know that this is not healthy. Not talking about it, or worse – ignoring reality in hopes that it will go away – does not actually help. Which will only create the grief, anguish, which is harder to overcome.
Joint Effort is Needed
Destigmatizing mental health problems is not something that can be accomplished with mere behavioral health consulting. Mental health management organizations cannot handle this daunting task alone. If we genuinely want to destigmatize mental health issues, and we should, it is going to require a joint effort among everyone involved. From behavioral health management companies and hospitals to clinics and the clinicians themselves, we all have a role to play in removing the stigma.
If we can do that, we can help patients better understand that there is hope. We can help them to know that the rest of the world does not look down on them. In so many cases, this is the first step to seeking treatment. It is understanding that there are people out there who truly care, people who want to do everything within their power to help a patient get better.
Organized Education and Support
Hospitals, clinics, and private practices that genuinely want to help in the effort to destigmatize mental health problems can start by developing education and support programs. Making connections with other facilities and nonprofit organizations is a good first step.
Today it might be helping to support a new series of murals painted around town. Tomorrow it might be launching a support group for survivors of loved ones lost to suicide. The stigmatizing of mental health issues can take many forms. What is most important is that it takes some form that will help patients get better, even if only in one small way. Remember that a lot of small efforts combine to make a much larger effort.
Let’s Get to Work, Together
Contact us to learn more about how Horizon Health can help you start a behavioral health program or take an existing program to new heights.