Augusta, GA (WJBF)- Monday, we talked about stigmas surrounding talking about mental illness. But what about the stigmas surrounding treatments for mental illness?
Just like there are stigmas about talking about mental illness, there are also stigmas about seeking treatment for them.
Many don’t believe therapy works. Others say they don’t want to go to counseling because they don’t want to take medicine. And some think they can just handle it all themselves.
“Girl, stop playing. You know you’re not ok,” said Angelina Scott.
More than 24 million adults in the United States with a mental illness never receive treatment.
Angelina Scott has been battling depression, anxiety and PTSD for many years. She said she tried to ignore the fact that something was wrong and when she did admit it, she tried to handle it herself. When that didn’t work, she said things got so out of control, she landed in prison.
“Hey. This is what you get when you don’t deal with your feelings. I am a prime example of all that can go wrong and it went wrong so fast,” said Scott.
Scott said that when she finally did admit that something might be wrong she didn’t feel heard.
“Because I told my fiancée I wasn’t ok. But as I specified, we didn’t understand how not ok I was. So he didn’t do anything. And I gave up. I’m like, forget it. No one is taking me seriously. I’m a strong one. Nothing can be wrong with me.”
Dr. Michael Rollock is a psychologist at AU Health. He said that recognizing that your mental health is important and getting treated when there is a problem is nothing to be ashamed of.
One myth is that people think they have to have a serious mental illness to seek therapy. This isn’t true. Therapy can help people deal with stress, or self defeating thoughts and behaviors.
“I went to cognitive behavioral therapy in grad school. And it helped tremendously. And it wasn’t about being crazy or being nuts or any of these other, kind of shame inducing words. It was about the fact that I had patterns of thinking that were self defeating,” Dr. Rollock explained.
Cortney Blankenship lost her husband Caleb to suicide in January because of untreated mental illness. She said that he was afraid of losing his military career if he sought help.
“In his previous job it was very frowned upon for him to seek help, because he had a weapon on him everyday and they would have taken that away. He saw that happen with coworkers. And unfortunately I think that is what led him to get so bad that he didn’t think that anyone could help him,” said Blankenship.
Blankenship said Caleb had finally reached out for help, just before he died.
“He was actually talking to a counselor. Finally he was in a position where he felt comfortable talking about it. His command here was great and supported him for seeking help. I think it was a little bit too late unfortunately,” said Blankenship.
Blankenship also said her husband was reluctant to take his prescriptions for his mental illness.
“Yeah, they recommended some meds, but he didn’t want to take them because he would have been coded and undeployable. His security clearance could have been pulled. And so it was all of these things. And he wanted to be in the Air Force for his entire career and he didn’t want anything to ruin that,” explained Blankenship.
Scott told NewsChannel 6 that she spent much of her two year prison sentence in anger, but finally faced the fact that she needed help. She said that no one can do it for you. There is help available, but people need to reach out and get it.
“I chose to do parental counseling. I chose to do mental health counseling. I chose to do anything I could to build a better me, because I was going to come back out here.”
Scott said now that she has received treatment for her mental illness, she see that it works and encourages others to seek help. She said she is not currently on medication, but her doctors have educated her on what signs to look for and how to handle it when she begins to have those symptoms.
“First of all, you go to the doctor when you’ve got a cold or you’ve got the flu, right? What’s the difference?” Scott asked.
If you or someone you know is suffering from mental illness and are looking for resources to help get treatment, just Click on one of the links below.