Are you hiding your problems?

Stigma associated with counselling
THE monotonous routine of your job along with your own personal problems can get in the way of your happiness and well being. At times, the pressure can be so crushing that you cannot handle it any longer on your own. In such a case, seeking professional help can bring back your peace of mind. However, a lot of people don’t seek professional help due to stigma associated with it. According to a recent study only 11% of those experiencing a diagnosable problem seek psychological services in a given year. Stigma is basically defined as a “flaw resulting from personal or physical characteristic viewed as socially unacceptable”.
There are two different types of stigma affecting a person’s decision to seek counseling. The first, public stigma, is the opinion held by the society that a person is socially not suitable. Researchers have found out that people seeking counseling services are treated less favourably and more negatively by others. It seems that it is not just having a disorder but seeking counseling services that is stigmatized by the public.

Given the negative opinion of those who seek counseling it is not surprising that many people avoid treatment and hide their concerns. Also people tend to avoid help for issues that are viewed negatively by others. For example, fear of being viewed as crazy is a common barrier to seeking professional help.

The second kind of stigma, self stigma, is the opinion held by a person that he or she is socially unacceptable, which can lead to reduction in self-esteem if the person seeks counseling. Most people think that seeking professional help is an indicator of weakness. Another self-stigma associated with counseling is that it is only for persons with serious mental disorders. Due to this kind of stigma, people also find it difficult to discuss problems with their friends because of fear of embarrassment and the perception that it would make them inferior.