Juliet Kuehnle is a Licensed Clinical Mental Health Counselor Supervisor and the owner of Sun Counseling and Wellness. Kuehnle conducts weekly interviews with interesting people in the community & beyond who share their experiences, struggles, life lessons, and tips for balanced living. Her guests include chefs, models, athletes, TV personalities, & small business owners. Find these conversations wherever you stream podcasts and @whoyoucallincrazypodcast and
Hey y’all, hey! It’s mental health awareness month and I beg you to truly stop and take in the info in this article. I want the shift in dialogue around mental health that we’re experiencing in the pandemic to not just be a moment. It can lead to true change in how we feel about mental illness! There’s been a stigma around mental illness forever. There’s a public stigma which is negative or discriminatory attitudes that others have about it, self-stigma which is the negative attitudes or internalized shame that people with mental illness have about themselves, and institutional stigma which is more systemic and when there are intentional or unintentional limits of opportunities for people with mental illness.
This all gets perpetuated by our society’s dialogue and how media tends to represent mental illness by depicting characters that are negative or violent. The reason this matters is that it leads to more shame, reduced hope, lower self-esteem, an increase in symptoms, and a reduced likelihood of seeking or staying in treatment. The good news, though, is there is a shift as of late and I believe this is because of what we have all experienced in the pandemic.
For the first time in our lifetimes, we have all experienced a collective trauma together. Yes, there have been different layers, factors, & hardships from person to person, but at the foundation, we have all experienced uncertainty, fear, and isolation. This put us on a foundation from which we could look around at each other and own our struggles more openly. We started to let go of the rote: “I am fine, how
are you?” and share more honestly. The impact on our mental health from this past year is going to continue to unfold as things start to bounce back. Living in this period of isolation goes against how we are wired. A lot of it has also mimicked social anxiety and depressive isolation and so we are going to have to unlearn things, challenge ourselves differently, and pick up some pieces. I believe we can get there more efficiently and productively if we continue to allow each other the language for this and continue to be open.
If you take nothing else from this, remember that it is okay to not be okay! My mission is to get people claiming it and having no issue saying, “yep, I go to therapy.” Because – spoiler alert- most of the people you know do! We all have some sort of struggle or negative experience and even if it’s not a clinical diagnosis, we all know stress, fear, or dysfunction. We tend to have ideas about what certain mental illnesses “look like” causing us to question it in others or even ourselves. You never know what someone is experiencing or how it presents, so there is no room for judgment or assumption.
Let’s continue to speak out and share our stories! That’s why I started my “Who You Callin’ Crazy?!” podcast because when you know someone who struggles with something and you hear them talk about it, it becomes less scary and more real and relatable. Try to educate yourself and others so that you can respond to misperceptions or negative comments and point out when you see or hear something stigmatizing. Be conscious of your language. That’s why I named the podcast what I did -- to take back the stigmatizing language people use because words matter. Encourage equality between physical and mental illness. Just consider the comparison between how people are treated with cancer versus someone with mental illness. And lastly, normalize treatment and getting support. It’s okay and encouraged to not
walk through this alone.