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Mental Illness: Why Shame Should Never Take Place in Your Professional Career

Mental Illness: Why Shame Should Never Take Place in Your Professional Career

One person shared their personal story via the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI); here is an excerpt from their story: “…I was only capable of seeing my weaknesses. I felt inadequate and anxious around people. I wanted to share my heavy heart, but didn’t know who I could trust…Shame followed me like a dark cloud wherever I went.”

There is a major stigma amongst professionals when it comes to mental illness. Fears of being seen as “too weak”, “unorganized” or “not ready” for the challenges and demands of a career are enough to cause many professionals to seek out unhealthy patterns of self-medication to deal with their symptoms – often through use of substances such as drugs or alcohol. In addition, many professionals fear losing their status in their company if help is sought, due to the added time and energy that is required for most treatment programs. Shame is a powerful emotion, and can not only cause the most successful professional to abandon their mental health care, but can also cause their symptoms to worsen, too.

With shame comes suppression, isolation, and harsh self-criticism. A 2014 study published in the journal Epidemiology and Psychiatric Sciences found that of 8,875 young to middle-aged adults, 1 in 4 participants reported negative attitudes towards seeking professional help and receiving medication. In this participants, more shame was reported, and they tended to be male, of younger age, less perceived knowledge, higher satisfaction with their mental health, and lower education overall. The results of the study did show that shame stemmed from self-stigma, which does have an impact on help-seeking.

Expectations that one should not experience mental illness because they are a professional is unrealistic – we’re all human, and the unique stress and pressure we all face on a daily basis will naturally have an effect on our mental health and wellbeing. Taking ownership of this fact can not only help you garner mental health support in the workplace, but could also help you feel more empowered; a 2015 study conducted by researchers from Germany and the USA found that for individuals with depression, “coming out proud” and combatting self-stigma led to significant reduction in symptoms.

Shame can only hold you back, while taking control over your mental health can bring you much more power, joy, and potential than you ever thought imaginable. Take the next step towards your health, happiness, and wellbeing today.

For more information on our treatment programs and services for professionals, call us today: 855-422-4129.

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