The barriers which may be stopping you asking for help with your mental health are called 'self stigma'. Find out how to get rid of them and get the help you need
"I’m not sick enough to ask for support”. Sound familiar? Or maybe it’s the opposite for you, “My mental health is beyond help”. It can feel daunting to reach out for help, especially if you fear being told your experience is too mild or too severe to warrant support. The reality is that no two experiences are the same, and everyone has the right to access help.
You are always worthy.
We've pulled some highlights from SANE's factsheet on self-stigma to share here.
What is self-stigma?
Because self-stigma is often unconscious, it can be hard to tell it’s taking place. Keeping an eye out for common signs – such as negative self-talk and social withdrawal – and beginning to gently challenge and reframe these pessimistic thought patterns is a good way to tackle self-stigma.
A common self-stigma dialogue goes something like this: If I ask for help, I am weak.
Seeking help is never a sign of weakness. Rather, it’s a sign of courage. Everyone needs help at times and learning to ask for it is never something to feel ashamed of. It’s just one of many important examples of ‘self-care’ – like exercising, eating well and getting enough sleep
Another one is: Other people won’t understand, so it’s better if I don’t tell them.
Social withdrawal can be a serious problem for those living with complex mental health issues. In many cases, people fear others will not understand their experience and stigmatise them for it. To combat fear of rejection, many people remove themselves from social situations in order to avoid disclosing their condition to others. Although this strategy may temporarily quell the fear of ostracisation, it is not a productive or long-term solution.
In fact, studies show that people who willingly reach out and seek help experience drastically less loneliness than those who are unwilling. Be gentle with yourself. Consider how you would treat a close friend in the same position. Treat yourself with the same level of patience and kindness – and give those around you the chance to do the same. If in doubt, remember to reach out to the services available to you. Explore ways to socialise that help you feel comfortable, safe and supported.
If this has struck a chord with you, remember you can book a free call with a SANE Peer Support Worker free of charge for a mental health check-in, no matter how big or small you think your needs are when you login to the Partner Portal and book a free call.
Mental Health Month encourages us all to think about our mental health and wellbeing, regardless of whether we may have a lived experience of mental ill-health or not. We’re incredibly proud and excited to partner with SANE Australia, a national charity helping people live long and fulfilling lives, free from stigma and discrimination. They support anyone affected by mental health issues, including family and friends, through information and stories, peer support, and counselling.