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Mental Health Awareness: How to Overcome Stigma and Get Help

by Jen Simpson October 2, 2017 Healthy Living

Did you know that one-in-five Americans suffers from a mental illness? According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), more than 18% of the population (or about 42 million people) live with an anxiety disorder and nearly 7% (or 16 million people) suffer from major depression. This is much more than a case of the blues or simply feeling down, and it has a massive impact on the lives of the people it touches, as well as on their loved ones.

October 2 - October 8 is Mental Illness Awareness Week

If you or someone you care about is struggling with a mental health condition, it’s important to remember that you’re not alone. Chances are, there is someone in your office, your classroom, or on your street who is coping too, though there is also a good chance one of you isn’t getting treatment. Only about 40% of adults and 50% of children receive the help they need. You deserve to live a healthy and full life. It’s time to get help.

Shake Off the Stigma

You are not your illness. Many people feel as if their illness is their identity. It’s important to remember that this is a medical condition you didn’t ask for; the same as diabetes, a broken limb, or even cancer. It does not define you.

Your illness is not a reflection of your character or worth. Several conditions, especially depression, can make people feel as if they’re not worthy or fill them with self-doubt. Recognize that this is a symptom and that it will fade when you get treatment.

Join a support group. Surrounding yourself with people who understand your condition can help you navigate the waters of treatment and remind you that you’re not alone.

Talk openly about mental health. We’ve come a long way as a society in terms of how we view and treat mental illness, but firsthand accounts and openness will further reduce the stigma.

Get Help

Find a mental health professional who will work with you. Some help is better than none, but general practitioners do not have the same training as psychologists, psychiatrists, and counselors. Whenever possible, seek out a specialist who truly understands your condition so that you get the best possible care.

Take your medications as prescribed. Most mental health medications require regular doses at specific intervals and they take time to build up to full efficiency. Always take your medications as directed, and talk to your doctor if you have side effects or don’t feel like it’s working. You may need a different dose or type of medication. If you can’t afford the medication you’ve been prescribed, consider signing up for a free RefillWise pharmacy discount card.

Talk to your boss or school counselor. Just having people know what you’re dealing with can be a huge relief. However, school counselors can put you in touch with resources and support groups as well, and your boss may be able to provide accommodations.

Take advantage of the Americans with Disabilities Act, if need be. People with mental illnesses are protected under the ADA, and you have a right to reasonable accommodations from your employer in most cases. If those accommodations allow you to live a more normal life or make it possible to get treatment, make use of them – it’s your legal right to do so.

Mental health issues cannot be cured overnight and, in some cases, require a lifetime of treatment. However, you are worth the time and investment. Get the help you need to live a full and happy life.

Sign Up for RefillWise

The RefillWise card offers a wealth of benefits, including discounts on common medications, such as antidepressants and those used to treat addictions. If the cost of prescriptions is preventing you from getting the help you need, sign up to receive your free RefillWise card today.

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