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Coping with the Stigma of a Mental Illness

Despite an increased acceptance and understanding of mental illness in recent years, there is still a stigma attached to having a mental illness.

Families of people diagnosed with a mental illness can take certain steps to help cope with the stigma. These steps include:

Remembering that you and your loved ones have choices— Whom you wish to tell about the mental illness and what you want another to know, is your decision.

Remembering that you are not alone—Many people cope with having a mental illness. Depression, anxiety, substance abuse, and other mental health problems are common.

Keeping hope and remembering that treatment works—Safe and effective medicines and psychosocial treatments are available; newer treatments are being developed. As a result, most individuals with mental health issues enjoy productive lives.

Supporting your loved one as he/she seeks help—Mental health treatment can be difficult. Patience is often needed when trying new medicines. Coping with side effects and learning new behaviors are often frustrating, but, in the long run, rewarding. Supporting your loved through the journey to stability and wellness is important.

Remaining active and surrounding yourself with supportive people—Social isolation can be a negative side effect of the stigma linked to mental illness. Isolating and discontinuing enjoyable activities put you at high risk for depression and burnout. Take a risk and try new activities in your community. You might want to investigate the local chapter of National Alliance for the Mentally Ill (NAMI) or a volunteer organization.


© Copyright 1995-2012 The Cleveland Clinic Foundation. All rights reserved.

This information is provided by the Cleveland Clinic and is not intended to replace the medical advice of your doctor or health care provider. Please consult your health care provider for advice about a specific medical condition. This document was last reviewed on: 3/8/2012...#12270