Sunday, May 19, 2024

Speaking out against mental health stigma


By Victoria Campbell

Mental health is a sensitive topic in our society. Some openly talk about it, some ignore it and some think struggling is a sign of weakness. Discomfort in speaking about mental health does have a connection to poor mental health.

College can be difficult, but thriving students show signs that they are more comfortable talking about one’s health. Some signs include a positive outlook on life, excelling in courses and overall being optimistic. 

As a student, succeeding and earning good grades is a confidence and mental booster.

Franny Sevilla, a graduate student at SUNY Plattsburgh, has seen, heard and learned about the subject while studying clinical mental health counseling.

The mental health stigma can influence and create misinformation for students.

“I do believe mental health can be frowned upon,” Sevilla said.

The stigma impacts society, especially certain groups that already struggle to begin with. This includes groups who are new and immigrating to the United States, as well as the LGBTQ+ community. 

Some may have trouble knowing how to respond regarding mental health.

“People do not know how to talk about emotions since they can be viewed as negative,” Sevilla said.

Students sometimes decide not to talk about their issues, instead hiding the issue deep within themselves.

It is more common than you might think, as 60% of college students struggle with at least one mental health issue, according to the American Psychological Association.

These mental health blocks do not just disappear, so it is essential to seek support and discuss these problems.

“When it comes to asking for help, it’s a hit or miss — a gray area,” Sevilla said.

Students will either hide it within themselves, which comes from unresolved trauma, or find a support system. Either way, identifying and finding support is crucial.

People tend to always want to be doing great. Therefore, owning and disclosing their mental health struggles when wanting to ask for help can be terrifying.

“They might be unaware of what is happening to them,” Sevilla said.

Confronting the issue and talking about it can be frightening due to the fear of judgment.

“I believe people might be afraid of being judged due to their experiences and embarrassment, the feeling of being little or small,” Sevilla said.

According to Sevilla, it can also develop into an avoidant behavior. This can cause those with poor mental health to shy away from seeking out help or shutting down when asked if they’re doing alright.

“It can cause a feeling of not feeling like they’re enough,” Sevilla said.

With men specifically, there is a stigma that they always need to be strong and hide emotions or weaknesses, which is beyond false.

While mental health can be a sensitive topic, we need to welcome these discussions and concerns and grow into mental health advocates.

“As a society, being a human being, learning to know when to have these discussions, trusting people to go to, deep conversations are important, making sure feelings are always validated,” Sevilla said. 

The first step is that we need to accept and continue to hear each other out, be open and transparent and trust that all are being supported and cared for, here especially.



  1. —speaking-out-against-mental-health-stigma

    It is interesting that you have chosen to speak out about the stigma (sic), not against those declaring, directing, agreeing to it.

    Harold A Maio

  2. When we support those taught and teaching there is a stigma to mental illnesses, directing their terms to readers, we become a significant part of the problem.

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