Don’t Let Mental Health Stigma Be an Obstacle to Seeking Help

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Social stigma against mental illness often prevents people – especially men, minorities and older adults – from seeking treatment.

“If you don’t feel comfortable enough to talk to a friend about your mental health struggles, you’re certainly not going to talk to a therapist to seek that first step to get help,” said Tim Fanning, a complex care coordinator with Memorial Behavioral Health.

Men, minorities and older adults are all less likely to seek help for mental health issues, such as depression and anxiety disorders, panic disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder.

Minorities face inequities in the healthcare system and frequently encounter discrimination and language barriers in treatment settings without easy access to resources, Tim said.

Older adults face a generational issue because they didn’t grow up with mental health being a central focus. Both encourage individuals who are experiencing mental health issues to stop suffering in silence, which is what too many people do.

“A lot of people don’t have a support system,” Tim said. “They think it’s their fault they’re lonely, that they don’t have a lot of friends. But a person can build a solid support system without a tight-knit group of friends.”

If you’re too nervous to take that first step in person, telehealth is an option. Telehealth allows you to meet with a counselor in the safe and familiar environment of your own home.

Memorial Behavioral Health provides outpatient behavioral health services for children, adolescents, young adults and adults. Programs address emotional, social and behavioral needs of individuals and their loved ones who experience difficulties across home, social and community settings.

Call Memorial Behavioral Health at 217-525-1064, Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. to connect with services. Or dial 988 if you or someone you know is having thoughts of suicide or experiencing a mental health or substance use crisis. The 988 line provides free, 24/7 confidential support.