Welcome to Counseling Live presented by Olive Branch Counseling Associates in Tinley Park, Illinois! On this blog my colleagues and I write about current and ongoing mental health topics and techniques that can benefit the community towards better mental health. In an effort to continue educating the community I wanted to start this series where we look into what mental health conditions are and what they aren’t. This year has brought forth many challenges and controversy, so we are encouraged now more than ever to use our voices and speak out. Unfortunately, many individuals living with and without mental health conditions don’t know how to use their voice or are afraid to because of what is called stigma.
“Stigma is a mark of disgrace that sets a person apart from others.”
“Disgrace is the loss of reputation or respect as the result of a dishonorable action.”
These words are harsh. These words are isolating. These words keep too many people silent, because they believe they are inherently broken and wrong or even bad. How is a child supposed to feel comfortable telling their parents’ that they want to harm themselves because they hate their body if the child has heard their parents talking about the attention seeking kids of their friends? Or how is a wife going to tell her husband that she is having intrusive thoughts about needing to clean to protect him when he thinks she is just a ‘clean freak’? Many people make jokes about difficult topics out of discomfort or ignorance and it has been normalized. The audience to the jokes is rarely considered which is where the harm comes in. There is a chance that someone in the audience, whether they are related or a close friend, is struggling and has internalized this well intentioned joke as a shot to their identity. Now if you’re thinking, “Well that is their problem, I am only telling a joke. Why are people so sensitive?” then you aren’t wrong in that, the person who personalizes the joke has done so on their own, but it was the distastefulness of the comment or joke itself that you communicated that was hurtful. You, as a person in someone else’s life, whatever role it may be, have an impact on those around you and coming from you, a hurtful joke may mean a lot. The jokes may better speak for your values and beliefs which could be damaging to your relationship with others. This is something that we don’t think about. The intention behind this series is to educate the community on common mental health conditions in order to reduce stigma, and in some ways, to challenge you to find some new jokes.
-Courtney, Graduate Intern
If you or a loved one is struggling and is seeking professional help, contact Olive Branch Counseling at 708-633-8000 or www.olivebranchcounselingassociates.com