Most of the time I work to equate mental illness with any other illness, like diabetes, or heart disease. But the fact is there are some differences. What about mental illness makes the social impact and stigma greater than other diseases?
Today we’re going to talk about coping with mental illness in your family, specifically the social impact and stigma. Don’t miss on the end of the video where I’ll share one of the most frustrating social impacts mental illness has had on our family.
I’m Angela Howard, my passion is to break the stigma of mental illness among fellow Christians. I’m here to help you live a more purposeful life with God, and with one another. Don’t forget to subscribe to my YouTube channel so you can get the first updates of new content.
I’m so excited to connect today because I really missed our time last week when I was under the weather.
The key differences that mental illness has from other illnesses is the social impact and stigma. So many symptoms express themselves through social behaviors that can feel personal in a way that heart disease never will. This impacts your relationships profoundly. I’m not just speaking about this from a clinical standpoint. I can tell you first hand that bipolar disorder almost destroyed my husband’s life and in turn our marriage. I’m not going to tell you that coping with mental illness in the family system is easy, it’s not. We didn’t go to the Dr. and followed a 10 step plan to an easy life. We continue to fight it every day, so when I share things that we’ve found helpful, I’m sharing them from personal experience, not from theoretical indifference.
There are a lot of ways to cope with the social impact and stigma, but today I’ll share three:
- Don’t Believe the Stigma: Even when you see mental illness in your own family, it’s easy to let stigma slip into your belief system. You’re loved one who is suffering IS NOT THEIR ILLNESS. You need to articulate who they are apart from the diagnosis and then remind yourself of those qualities.
- Identify False Beliefs: Be sensitive to any false beliefs you might have about people with mental illness. A common one is that people with severe mental illness are more violent than the general population. There are various determining factors that cause someone to be violent. But data shows that only 5% of violent crimes are committed by those who are mentally ill, meaning 95% are committed by those who are not. I’ll leave further reading in the notes below, but it’s vital that we identify false beliefs that are perpetuated by our society causing us to treat those who are suffering as social outcasts.
- Fight for Improving Your Relationship: Things don’t always have to stay the same. You can make choices towards change by pursuing counseling, establishing a support network, and setting up boundaries for healthy expectations.
Lastly, I want to share one of the most frustrating social impacts mental illness has had on our family. There are times when we are in a crisis that we can’t share with those outside our small circle, and we are not able to meet people’s expectations. We’ve lost friends and been judged harshly without people even asking if there’s anything else going on that might be behind our lack of participation or inability to engage. If you are experiencing this, know that you are not alone.
There are “friends” who destroy each other, but a real friend sticks closer than a brother. Proverbs 18:24 (NLT)
How are you coping with the social impact of mental illness? I’ll love to hear from you today, comment below.
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Further Reading Regarding False Beliefs about Mental Illness and Violence: