With many stigmas surrounding mental illness, it can be challenging for those with mental disorders to find love and support; symptoms can worsen and can lead to dangerous outcomes, including self-harm and death by suicide. Many people who have experienced stigma either overtly or covertly about mental illness may engage in self-stigma, which occurs when a person believes they are weak or damaged because of an illness. If you’re experiencing self-stigma, this can hold you back in many areas of life and can limit your potential; previous studies have shown that self-stigma can cause a person to “question their worthiness and capability in pursuing personal goal”.
A 2016 study published in the Journal of Mental Health developed a measure for a phenomenon called the “why try” effect – defined as,
“…a sense of futility in which people believe they are unworthy or incapable of achieving personal goals because they apply the stereotypes of mental illness to themselves.”
Four hundred and twenty-three participants completed several survey instruments regarding their mental illness, recovery, stereotypes, and more. The results indicated that people with “why try” were likely to agree with public stigma. Participants who reported low self-esteem also experienced greater depression and public stigma, as well as lower success in recovery. As the study indicated, stigma causes harm to those with mental illness; this can manifest itself in two ways: emotionally or behaviorally. Emotional issues may include low self-esteem, low self-confidence, etc. Behavioral outcomes often involve a lack of motivation to pursue personal interests, professional goals, and more by a “why try” mentality. Common thoughts associated with this phenomenon are:
- “I’m not worthy of these goals or able to achieve them because of my disorder, so why try?”
- “Because I have a mental illness, I am dangerous…so why try?”
- “My disorder makes me lack in these areas, so why try?”
If you can relate to these phrases, it’s important that you recognize that social stigma does not equal the truth. As a person with a mental disorder, you know the reality of the situation. Society creates stigmas due to fear or uncertainty, and many people don’t want to take the time to fully understand different mental disorders. The best way to overcome this is to seek help from a reputable treatment center to develop the tools you need to regain your confidence and find healthy strategies for disclosing and discussing your story. The more we educate people about mental illness, the more we can combat social stigma.
Therapy is a primary component of treatment for rehabilitation from a substance use disorder and/or mental health disorder. Attending treatment with certified clinicians and counselors is critical for a full recovery. At one of New Vista Behavioral Health’s treatment providers, you are receiving exceptional care, held to a higher standard. Our programs result in better outcomes, ensuring a better recovery. For information call us today: 888-316-3665.