by Zoe Bonack, PsyD, BCN, October 12, 2017
Last week was Mental Health Awareness Week. I really like the theme that was chosen this year "I am Stigma Free." Often times I hear people express wanting to be understood by others, with worrying about how others may perceive their symptoms or diagnosis. They do not want to be seen as just being someone who is depressed or anxious, as someone who has a brain injury or PTSD, as someone who is autistic or has a developmental disability.
Diagnosis means so many things to different people. As human beings we like to categorize things so that they have meaning to us. It is how we describe colors, textures, shapes, and sizes. People often want answers related to what their experiences are and while a diagnosis may be helpful it does not fully define who that person is. Each person is a unique individual with their own story and their own experience. When someone tells me that they have a specific symptom or diagnosis, I often inquire what that means to them.
No one enjoys a label that makes them feel ashamed of who they are. Most people want to be understood as a unique individual with strengths, weaknesses, gifts, and talents. While a diagnosis can often times help people to understand what they are experiencing it never is a full description of who that person is. As we continue to acknowledge those with mental health issues, my hope is that the stigma that many carry will be left behind with people being seen as who they are instead of as a diagnosis or as someone who is mentally ill.
Neurofeedback and psychotherapy are both tools that can help someone with any of the diagnosis listed above. Offering support and encouragement to someone who needs it can be the greatest gift of all. #IAmStigmaFree #neurohopepsych #neurofeedback #psychotherapy #psychologist #mentalhealth #awareness