Skip to content

Wellness Wednesday: Exploring Mental Health Stigma

The importance of mental health cannot be overstated, yet societal stigma continues to cast a shadow over mental health issues. This stigma not only shapes individuals' attitudes towards their own mental well-being but also impacts their perception of boundaries around it. Here, Registered Counsellor, Melissa Smith shares her insight.

The stigma around mental health significantly influences how boundaries are perceived, particularly by fostering the notion that seeking assistance denotes weakness or insufficiency. “This belief can make individuals hesitant to reach out for support or to set boundaries that prioritize their mental well-being. They may fear being judged or ostracized for taking steps to protect their mental health,” says Melissa.

Further noting that the stigma surrounding mental health can lead to misunderstandings about the nature of boundaries. “Some may view setting boundaries as a form of selfishness or an inability to cope with life's challenges. This misunderstanding can make it difficult for individuals to assert their needs and preferences, as they may fear being labelled as difficult or demanding,” she adds.

Image: Unsplash

Cognizant of the role of cultural beliefs and traditions, she says that they can play a significant role in perpetuating stigma around mental health and boundaries. “In some cultures, there may be a strong emphasis on stoicism and resilience, which can discourage individuals from seeking help or setting boundaries that prioritize their mental well-being.”

To address the stigma surrounding mental health and boundaries, she affirms that education and awareness are key. “By promoting understanding and empathy, we can create a more supportive environment that values mental health and respects the boundaries individuals set to protect it.” Asserting that it's important to recognize that seeking help for mental health concerns and setting boundaries are signs of strength and self-care, not weakness.

Melissa notes that society's attitudes toward healthy boundaries can vary. Below, she unpacks the ways in which society may look down on or discourage the establishment of healthy boundaries:

Image: Unsplash

Perceived as selfish: In some cultures or communities, setting boundaries may be seen as selfish or self-centred. There may be an expectation to prioritize the needs of others above one's own, leading to guilt or shame when asserting boundaries.

Pressure to conform: Society often values conformity and may view individuals who assert their boundaries as rebellious or difficult. This pressure to conform can make it challenging to establish and maintain healthy boundaries.

Fear of rejection: Setting boundaries can sometimes lead to rejection or criticism from others. This fear of rejection can deter individuals from asserting their needs and preferences.

Misunderstanding of boundaries: Some people may not fully understand the concept of boundaries or may equate them with walls or barriers that prevent meaningful connections. This misunderstanding can lead to negative perceptions of boundaries.

Her advice? “Be persistent with your boundaries, regardless of the stigma surrounding mental health.” Affirming that this is crucial for maintaining your well-being. “Setting and enforcing boundaries is not only a sign of self-respect but also a necessary step in protecting your mental health and wellness.”

Asserting that by staying true to your boundaries, you are affirming your worth and sending a clear message to others about what is acceptable to you. “While societal stigma may try to undermine your efforts, staying persistent in maintaining your boundaries is a powerful act of self-preservation and empowerment,” she concludes.

Share this article: