I was talking recently to a business owner at an entrepreneur networking event. He shared that he had been struggling with severe anxiety. I asked him why he hadn’t picked up the phone to call—at least to chat casually over what might be the source of his anxiety. He smiled, “It was pride. I was too proud to reach out.”
Our conversation signaled something important. Does seeking mental health help carry a stigma? Do
you experience the shame of thinking, if you need help with your mental health you feel weak or be
seen as incapable and undependable, something that can damage your reputation, and potentially as an entrepreneur, your business?
I did a little digging—here are some of my findings:
The stigma surrounding mental health and treatment is diminishing.
Societal stigma and the move to hide your desire to seek help is one of the biggest barriers to actually taking action to relieve and shift chronic anxiety and stress.
If you have anxiety or compounding stressors, you may feel like the stigma will affect your ability to get a job, your access to healthcare and insurance coverage for treatment, or your acceptance in society as whole. Here’s some good news—The NYT recently published these statistics:
In 2021, 42 million people sought mental health care, up 27 million from 2002. Americans now see mental health care as reliable and a significant part of cultivating a better life for themselves, and their families. More and more it is considered a part of a wholesome life, like having a gym membership, or going fishing.
Progress is being made in the field of mental health.
Stress and anxiety operate on a spectrum. When you’re challenged by either or both it’s often due to a number of contributing factors and conditions not just one source. Your stressors are not going to be exactly the same as your friends’ or family members’. Friendly advice is well-intentioned and most of the time does not help you work through and resolve the latent sources of your stress and anxiety. This is because what works for your sister or work colleague may have nothing to do with what is at the core of your anxiety.
On top of this, stress and anxiety can be treated in different ways at different stages in your life. When you commit to your mental wellbeing you have a real opportunity to unlearn the belief systems you have about how much the mental, emotional and physical parts of yourself depend upon each other for your wellbeing and capacity to thrive.
There are more opportunities for treatment and support.
According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, there are more opportunities for treatment and support than ever before. There are also new treatments available, as well as support groups and other programs designed to help you with challenging anxiety and stress manage your symptoms and recover from trauma in your life—so you are living a more productive and fulfilling life.
There is no one-size-fits-all solution for managing these issues, so it's important to seek out appropriate interventions that work best for you.
UNLearn the Pattern - What to do first
Nothing changes until something changes, and avoiding your pain is like putting a band aid on a severed limb. Give yourself the gift of owning that you are struggling and take a look at what services are available to you. Make appointments with a few mental health professionals whose approaches fit your needs.