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If you are faced with mental health stigma and you recognize yourself in the descriptions of my last article about mental stigmas and their impact (https://drsharongalor.wordpress.com/2016/04/25/lets-get-rid-of-mental-health-stigma-once-and-for-all-part-1 ) here are a few things you can do to cope with the stigma:

1. Don’t let doubt and shame creep in.

Seeking psychological help is neither a sign of weakness nor something to be ashamed of. Seeking professional help and taking care of yourself is not a dishonourable and improper act that should make you feel ashamed. Even though you might not feel that way right now, the act of reaching out to professional help depicts that you still have inner strength, feel enough worthiness and hope to seek support for yourself and to try to create a better life for yourself. Remember that you are not your symptoms. Therapy can also help you boost your self- esteem and reduce those self- critical thoughts that form an obstacle in your path.

2.Don’t let the stigma stop you from seeking the help you need.

Don’t let the fear of being labelled by ignorant people prevent you from seeking help and feeling better. Therapy can reduce the adversities and the symptoms that interfere with your work and personal life and provide you with relief and a happier life.

3.Seek social support

It might feel like you are the only one who is going through this mental anguish but you are not alone. They are many people who go through similar pain as you, so join a support group. Sharing common experiences, personal stories in confidentiality and exchanging knowledge , advice or tips from peers is empowering and an excellent support resource that will improve your coping. Making new friends will also improve your life quality.

4.Be selective but do reach out

Rather than isolating yourself, be selective with the company that you keep and with the people who you share your struggles with. Try to reach out to positive and supportive people, who you trust for the compassion, support and understanding that you need.

5.Speak out

Everyone has a right to live without discrimination and to be treated with respect, equality and dignity. That is a basic human right. Speak out when you feel that others are discriminating against you. By speaking out you can not only attempt to correct the wrong against yourself, but also you also educate others and prevent it from occurring to others. Most often stigma is due to ignorance, fear and lack of understanding. Individuals, who possess more information are less stigmatizing than individuals who are misinformed about mental illness, so express your opinions, thoughts and emotions. Tell your story and share your insider’s knowledge so others will better understands what it really means and not what they think it means to have a mental health problems.

6. Don’t Give Up!- The answers and solutions to your problems are out there, but you need to take action and make the effort go get them. With professional support and the acquirement of new skills and insights, you will eventually feel better and your life will improve. Do not lose hope and do not give up.

 

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