Why Overcoming Stigma is Essential to Your Mental Health

If you’re facing mental health issues, what’s stopping you from getting the help you need? Issues finding a therapist that you can connect with? Affordability and/or accessibility in your area? Or are you worried about being labeled and facing judgment from people once they find out you’re seeking help?

If it’s the latter, you’re not alone. Here’s what to know about mental health stigma and how we can help overcome it.

erin bahadur at sweatworking summit

What is mental health stigma?

According to a review of studies by The Lancet, while the general public is accepting of mental health disorders and the need for treatment, individuals can still harbor stigmatizing views of those with mental illnesses. In some diverse racial and ethnic settings, the stigma against mental health can be even more of a barrier to seeking care. 

And even if you can accept external stigma, you might be feeling the pressures of self-stigma (which refers to the negative attitudes, including internalized shame, that people with mental illness have about their own condition). Self-stigma can get in the way of recovery for those with mental illnesses, as they may experience reduced hope, lower self-esteem, and a reduced likelihood of staying in treatment. 

As long as mental health stigma still exists, we’re denying ourselves the chance for a fuller, happier life. Together at the #Sweatworking Summit, we’ll start to dismantle stigma in mental health so that we can all live more openly, more honestly, and more fully. 

Friday, March 11: Breaking the Stigma workshop at #Sweatworking Summit

One of our major goals in hosting this Summit on accessible mental healthcare is to help our attendees talk openly and honestly about mental health. To help, writer and mental health advocate Erin Bahadur is teaming up with Ariana Alejandra Gibson, Founder of the Stigma app, to host a workshop on Breaking the Stigma.

First, we’ll hear why it’s so important to reach out when we feel isolated and alone, then we’ll hear Erin’s story of addiction, losing the career she’d worked towards, incarceration, and learning to take care of herself and her mental health. In advance of the session, we’ll ask attendees to share things anonymously that they’ve been living with that make them feel alone. We’ll share some of those stories (with permission) in the session. If someone’s share resonates with you, we’ll give you ways to connect with each other during the session.

Sign up for the Summit to attend this virtual mental health workshop!

More about Erin Bahadur: 

Erin is a writer, trainer, and mental health advocate. She has been in recovery for over eleven years and shares her personal experiences with addiction, depression, and anxiety to help break the stigma around mental illness. Her biggest goal is to help others understand that they are not alone, no matter what they are going through. She currently lives in North Carolina with her husband, dog, and two children.

Erin Bahadur

More about the Stigma app: 

STIGMA is a mental health community that uses asynchronous messaging to connect you with people who share your lived experience. It is NOT a public social media site. There are no public profiles, no comment threads, no influencers… in other words, no vanity. This is a safe space to practice talking about your mental health.


About Kristen Geil

A native of Lexington, Kentucky, Kristen moved to Chicago in 2011 and received her MA in Writing, Rhetoric, and Discourse from DePaul while trying to maintain her southern accent. Kristen grew up playing sports, and since moving to Chicago, she’s fallen in love with the lakefront running path and the lively group fitness scene. Now, as a currently retired marathoner and sweat junkie, you can usually find her trying new workouts around the city and meticulously crafting Instagram-friendly smoothie bowls. Kristen came on to A Sweat Life full-time in 2018 as Editor-in-Chief, and she spends her days managing writers, building content strategy, and fighting for the Oxford comma.