Dual Perspectives on Reducing the Stigma of Mental Health

By Will Brown, Clinical & Senior EAP Account Manager, AllOne Health, and Raquelle Solon, Director, Organizational Development, FEI Workforce Resilience

An EAP Clinician’s Perspective

The stigma surrounding mental health has been a force in American culture for centuries. However, over the past few decades, society has made great progress to identify this phenomenon and change the conversation. 

During my 30-plus years of clinical practice, I have helped my clients debunk common myths related to stigma: a typical one has been that a client is intrinsically flawed due to their mental health challenges.

It takes great courage when clients express their thoughts and feelings surrounding their self-perception; and it’s also an important first step to uncover false narratives in service of forming a new identity.

Advances in cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) have contributed significantly to helping clients learn to adopt positive affirmations and improve self-esteem. This form of therapy has also taught them how to challenge and restructure their thinking, especially during stressful times.

Instead of negative thoughts getting the upper hand, CBT helps people learn to advocate for themselves by adopting new ways of thinking. Self-confidence emerges and symptoms are reduced.

A Personal Perspective

I’ve long known the stigma associated with mental illness. It’s been part of my whole life. While growing up, my mother was affected by several diagnoses—manic depression, schizophrenia, and suicide ideation. To say that my education started early would be an understatement. As a child, I became the caregiver and protector of my mother and younger siblings. 

My mother did great when on the right combination of medications or when taking her medication. However, we lived in a small rural community and rumors spread fast. Once these rumors reached my mother, she started to resist treatment because of its stigma.

Ever since entering the field of crisis intervention, behavioral health, and organizational development, my goal has been to reduce the stigma surrounding mental health and seeking treatment. I don’t want the next generation to face the struggles and stigma my mother faced.

What you can do

Join Will and Raquelle—and prominent athletes, such as Simone Biles, Michael Phelps, and Steve Young—in sharing stories and experiences. They have courageously and publicly acknowledged their journeys with mental health struggles and the need for treatment.

As a leader within your organization, I encourage you to help normalize this conversation—and remind people that their Assistance Program is here to help.

To learn more about how we can assist with your Organizational Development initiatives click here to contact us. Or you can reach out directly to your account manager, who can connect you with our OD Consulting team.

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