At any given time, one in five Americans adults and one in six youth is experiencing a mental health issue. So, if that’s you, you’re not alone. But why do fewer than 50% of adults get the help they need?
For one, there’s a lot of stigma (negative stereotypes) attached to mental health disorders. It’s not right, but stigma can lead to discrimination. Discrimination can be obvious and direct – such as someone making a negative remark about your mental illness or treatment. Or it may be unintentional or subtle – when someone avoids you because the person assumes you could be unstable, violent or dangerous due to your mental illness. We even judge ourselves, and this can lead us to believe that we can never succeed at certain challenges or that we can’t improve our situation. If you’re impacted by mental health stigma, it’s important that you don’t let stigma create self-doubt and shame. Your condition IS NOT a sign of personal weakness and you can’t control it without help. Seeking counseling, educating yourself about your condition, and connecting with others who have mental illness can help you gain self-esteem and overcome destructive self-judgment. Remember that peoples’ judgments almost always stem from a lack of understanding rather than information based on facts. You can be an advocate. Consider expressing your opinions at events, in letters to the editor or on the internet. This helps instill courage in others facing similar challenges and educates the public about mental illness.
Another barrier to help is the high cost of mental health care and insurance coverage. Remember that early intervention is always less expensive than crisis care hospitalization. Please don’t wait until tomorrow if you are experiencing anxiety, depression, trauma, or other mental health conditions. Nonprofit organizations like L.A. CADA can help you navigate through the complicated mental healthcare system here in L.A. County, and provide help for accessing benefits. Other lifelines include:
- Call 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255) to reach a 24-hour crisis center
- Text MHA to 741741 at the Crisis Text Line
- Call 1-800-985-5990 or text “TalkWithUs” to 66746 at the SAMHSA Disaster Distress Helpline. Trained crisis workers will listen to you and direct you to the resources you need.
Learn more about mental health from: NAMI, The National Alliance on Mental Illness