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May is Mental Health Awareness month and the Behavioral Health team at Marias Healthcare Services would like to reach out to our local community and offer various insights into mental health topics.

One in five Americans are affected by a mental health condition and many of these individuals are met with barriers to accessing the treatment and support they need. Some of these barriers are more concrete, such as socioeconomic factors or lack of healthcare and other barriers, like stigma, are more subtle. Stigma is the negative attitudes and beliefs towards a group of people based on a distinguishing characteristic.

For those dealing with mental health concerns, stigma creates an environment of shame, fear and silence, preventing many individuals from seeking out the resources and help they need in order to lead well and fulfilling lives.

Stigma presents in a variety of ways and individuals with mental health issues may experience:

Alienation, or being seen as “other.”

Stereotypes such as weak, lazy, undisciplined, or irresponsible.

Discrimination in finding and securing stable housing and employment.

Rejection or bullying.

Criminalization.

Stigma can lead to worsening symptoms, lack of disclosure, and the internalization of being damaged, shamed, or broken in individuals with mental health challenges. Stigma may also lead to a reluctance to seek support for fear of judgment from others.

Breaking the cycle of stigma is paramount and it’s up to all of us to play a part. How can we as individuals and a collective community work to be stigma free?

 Avoid harmful labels and use respectful language to talk about mental health issues.

Challenge misconceptions when we see or hear them.

See the person, not the condition.

Offer support, empathy and compassion.

An environment of compassion and empathy is integral to breaking down barriers rooted in shame and fear. Our actions have a ripple effect and are an important part in making our community more supportive of all of our community members.

If you feel as though you could benefit from additional support, please call (406) 434-3100 to connect with our Behavioral Health Services at Marias Healthcare. We offer counseling, medication management and Medication-Assisted Treatment. At Marias Healthcare Services you will be met with empathy, compassion, and understanding.

Small town, big hearts.

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