Stigma Impacts Mental Health Treatment

Approximately 1 in 5 adults in the U.S.—43.8 million, or 18.5%—experiences mental illness in a given year, according to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). What’s more, among the 20.2 million adults in the U.S. who experienced a substance use disorder, 50.5%—10.2 million adults—had a co-occurring mental illness, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration (SAMHSA).

Many Americans may find the above figures startling, but they are the facts when it comes to the prevalence of mental health conditions in the United States. The reality – that more than half of Americans living with addiction also contend with a dual diagnosis like depression, anxiety, and bipolar disorder – can no longer be ignored. Moreover, SAMHSA also reports that only 41% of adults in the U.S. with a mental health condition received mental health services in the past year.

There are currently no known cures for mental illness, of any kind. Fortunately, treatments and therapies are available to provide people with a means of managing their mental illness and leading healthy lives in recovery. However, as is made clear above, less than half of the afflicted seek or receive mental health services. While many can chalk a lack of treatment up to geographic or financial circumstances, in a significant number of cases people do not seek assistance because of stigma. Experts agree, one of the enormous obstacles standing in between of men and women’s recovery is society’s stigmatization of people living with diseases of the mind.

The National Alliance on Mental Illness or NAMI, a nationwide grassroots advocacy group, wants to educate Americans about the nature of mental illness; encourage society to exercise compassion; and, achieve something that some may say is impossible—Cure Stigma.

Cure Stigma: Mental Illness Awareness Week 2018

There’s a virus spreading across America. It harms the 1 in 5 Americans affected by mental health conditions. It shames them into silence. It prevents them from seeking help. And in some cases, it takes lives. What virus are we talking about? It’s stigma. Stigma against people with mental health conditions. But there’s good news. Stigma is 100% curable. Compassion, empathy and understanding are the antidote. Your voice can spread the cure. Join NAMI, the National Alliance on Mental Illness. Together we can #CureStigma.

The above words are NAMI’s Cure Stigma campaign manifesto. October 7–13 is Mental Illness Awareness Week 2018. During this time, and beyond, NAMI is encouraging everyone to get tested for stigma and learn how to be more empathetic and understanding of those who are living with mental illness. By doing so, the organization believes that more individuals will seek the treatment they desperately require.

NAMI is hopeful that as many people as possible will take to social media and spread messages of hope and encouragement this week. The goal is to reach the millions of Americans who in the past have been fearful of the social repercussions they perceive will accompany seeking help. NAMI writes:

Stigma is toxic to their mental health because it creates an environment of shame, fear, and silence that prevents many people from seeking help and treatment. The perception of mental illness won’t change unless we act to change it.

Dual Diagnosis Treatment

At Pacific Shores, we treat substance use disorders alongside dual diagnoses for optimal success. Our team of addiction professionals understands that for recovery to take root and grow, a client’s addiction and co-occurring mental illness must receive simultaneous treatment. We create custom treatment plans that recognize your unique needs; and, we will meet you where you are and guide you to where you want to be!