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Faculty of Behavioral Sciences

CLINICAL PSYCHOLOGISTS’ MENTAL HEALTH ISSUES AND ASSOCIATED STIGMA

Most people at some point in their lives face a mental health condition because they are common. Some people experience these things just briefly, and they bounce back on their own without any assistance or support. Others, however, may have similar events repeatedly, which can be quite distressing and have an impact on daily living. When this happens, getting professional help may be beneficial.

Clinical Psychologists frequently struggle with mental health issues. However, the majority of clinical psychologists tend to seek assistance from other medical professionals rather than disclosing their mental health issues. Stigma is a significant barrier to disclosure, but it can be minimized by things like creating a friendly workplace atmosphere and educating trainees about mental health. People with mental health issues may find it difficult to seek care because of the stigma associated with it, and this can have a negative effect on their quality of life.

The stigma surrounding mental illness is severe, pervasive, and painful.

Based on cues such as psychiatric symptoms, physical appearance, deficits in social skills, and the label of mental illness given by a mental health professional or inferred when a person walks out of a mental health professional’s office, the general public may believe that a person has a mental illness. When the general public is convinced that a person has a mental illness, stereotypes emerge. Stereotypes enable people to quickly form opinions about social groups. Some common stereotypes about people with mental illnesses include the belief that they are dangerous, incompetent, or to blame for their condition. People who are prejudiced against people with mental illnesses support negative stereotypes and experience negative emotional responses as a result. Finally, discrimination (a behavioral response) results from prejudice (a cognitive and affective response). Discrimination includes both negative actions against people with mental illnesses and positive actions only for people who do not have mental illnesses.

Many people with mental illnesses bear heavy burdens as a result of prejudice and discrimination against those with mental illnesses. The effects of stigma, however, do not end there because stigma can be internalised. When a person with a mental illness internalises public stigma, it leads to lower self-esteem, self-efficacy, and hope for the future.

So having a mental illness can be stigmatised by others as much as by oneself.

However, there is also a stigma attached to obtaining psychological help (e.g., psychotherapy).

There are several factors that are unique to mental health professionals, like the lack of therapists that the participant wasn’t already familiar with.  Some of the mentioned requirements for choosing a therapist were particularly specific to mental health professionals, like locating a therapist with whom one did not have any professional disagreements and felt secure in terms of confidentiality. For mental health professionals, confidentiality would be particularly problematic because they may have many professional contacts within the community of therapists from which they are seeking therapy.

For instance, it would be difficult for a psychologist seeking treatment to visit a clinic or facility where they know someone who works there since even just being observed in the waiting area might make them feel as though their confidentiality has been violated.

It can also feel risky to one’s anonymity if the therapist of the psychologist seeking assistance is in a consulting group with someone the psychologist knows.

This is an area of concern since it discourages psychologists from asking their peers for advice and social support. Psychologists are instead encouraged to hide mental illness as a result. Psychologists are more susceptible to problems like countertransference, compassion fatigue, and occasionally professional impairment if people are less inclined to seek the care they need due to stigma.

We shouldn’t feel guilty if we’ve experienced mental illness or other difficulties in the past.

Psychologists should learn to support one another and embrace this all-too-common experience as an opportunity for personal and professional growth rather than being shamed into fear and silence for exhibiting signs of mental illness, in my opinion.

It’s time to let our guard down and be open about our personal struggles with mental illness and other places where we have experienced both wounding and healing. It is time for us to support one another by assisting one another in receiving the interventions we require when dealing with a mental illness in the present. It’s time we acknowledge the pain and suffering we experience on a daily basis. It’s time we began to view our own pain and suffering as a source of healing and resiliency. After all, isn’t that what we try and persuade our clients to do?

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