The Stigma Associated with Mental Health Issues

With so many service men and women returning from the front lines with PTSD and depression, you’d think we’d lose some of the stigma that’s associated with going for treatment of mental health issues.  It’s still a big taboo though.

Why is it that if we develop pneumonia, we won’t hesitate to go in to see our primary care physician, yet we’ll suffer with depression so bad it makes it unbearable to even get out of bed, yet we won’t ask for help?  I guess it’s the fear that we’re “nuts” or “crazy.”  We aren’t, but we fear other people will perceive us in that light.

Don’t you think it makes more sense to ask for help rather than hurting ourselves or someone else?  Makes sense to me.  You should go to the nearest emergency room or call 911 just as though it were any other medical emergency.  There is also the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline which you can reach by calling 1-800-273-TALK (8255).  Just press 1 for the Veterans Suicide Prevention Hotline.  Or, you can go to www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org/ and click on Veterans Chat Live with a Counselor.  The hotline is staffed 24/7.

If you’re looking for a VA hospital or clinic near where you live, you can call 1-800-827-1000 or go to www.va.gov and you’ll find the address and phone number of a VA clinic near you.   If you are already using VA medical services, you can have your physician refer you to a VA mental health provider.

Some of the signs to look for to tell you if you have a mental health problem include:

  • Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, helplessness, or hopelessness
  • Misuse of drugs, alcohol, food, sex, gambling or overspending money to cope with stress
  • Problems functioning at home, work or school
  • Depression that lasts longer than 2 weeks

Whatever you do, don’t continue to suffer in silence.  You’re not crazy, you just need some mental first aid.

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