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Surviving Mental Health Stigma

When "After Life" first hit Netflix in 2019, I was immediately in love with a show that deals with mental health, and raving about it. Now, three years later, after watching the final season, I’m raving about it all the more. Back then, I wrote about how impressed I was with how the show handles topics like grief and mental health struggles. Now, wiping away my tears thanks to the final episode, I’m here to say we need more shows like "After Life."
Toxic positivity seems to be popping up everywhere on social media. Scrolling through Instagram, I see at least two or three posts a day promoting a view on positivity that may actually be counterintuitive to true happiness. People may ask, "What's the big deal with toxic positivity?" The answer is, in my experience, toxic positivity can do more harm than good in promoting mental health wellness.
What does the new year mean for mental health stigma? Many people see New Year’s Eve ticking down into the next year as a time of transformation, possibility, hope. Don’t get me wrong; a new year can certainly represent those things and be an opportunity for a refresh. But among the “new year, new insert-whatever-here” posts, I wonder where mental health stigma fits in.
Mental health stigma is pervasive in the Hispanic/Latinx community. These long-standing negative beliefs surrounding mental health are attributed to various cultural complexities, such as the tendency to keep personal challenges private and the harsh stereotypes affiliated with those who suffer from mental health issues.
My name is Juliet Jack, and I am thrilled to be joining the HealthyPlace community as a "Surviving Mental Health Stigma blog" writer. I am a 21-year-old recent college graduate born in Washington D.C. I am grateful to have this platform to share, discover and learn more about navigating mental health stigma together. This blog is a safe place for anyone suffering from mental health issues. You are not alone in facing the stigma surrounding mental health, and even in 2021, there is so much more work to be done to combat this detrimental stigma. Let us be a part of the solution and work to both educate others and discover efficient coping mechanisms as we continue to validate our individual feelings, experiences. and diagnoses.
I’m struggling with my mental health. It’s such a simple sentence, but it’s a hard one for me to write. I’m already thinking of ways I might rephrase or rewrite this. Usually, I skirt around it, and I don’t think I’ve ever outright actualized it like this. If I have, it’s a rarity. Rarity or not, the truth is that things are not great at the moment. Depression and anxiety are weighing heavily, and it’s hard to function.
Death is hard for many people to understand, and feelings about it can be extremely challenging to put into words. When it comes to death by suicide, the challenge seems to become even greater. Think of all the ways you’ve heard suicide spoken about; unfortunately, a lot of it results in stigma and ignoring pain. (Note: This post contains a content warning.)
Have you ever wondered if relatability has anything to do with mental health stigma? I haven’t until recently. Now that it’s entered my mind, I can’t help but wonder how much of a role that might play in decreasing stigma and maybe even perpetuating it.
"Surviving Mental Health Stigma Blog" — that’s the name of this blog full of tips and advice to get through moments of stigma, overcome it, and so on. Often, that’s how I approach writing for this blog: what tips can I share? What have I gone through that might be useful to others? But then it struck me. Dealing with mental health stigma can quite literally be an act of survival. It’s not hyperbole. It’s not dramatics. Mental health stigma could literally lead to someone dying. I’ll elaborate. (Note: this post contains a content warning.)
Among tinsel and twinkling lights and cheer, it’s not something people want to hear, but it’s true: the holidays negatively impact my mental health. Whereas others find cheer in the music and gift-wrapping, I find discomfort, anxiety, and darkness. The even more difficult thing is there’s really no safe, stigma-free space to talk about it.