Here's a sad reality: Approximately 31 percent of people with mental illness say they choose to not seek treatment for their disorder due to fear of judgment.
Stigma is a real issue when it comes to mental health; it acts as a barrier to support and stands in the way of self-acceptance. We put together a little chart to help you navigate the discomfort that's associated with talking about mental health disorders. When should you be "ashamed" of your mental illness? Read on to find out (story continues below).
How to talk about it:
The "should I tell someone I have a mental illness?" question is a complicated one -- and it doesn't have a right or wrong answer. Revealing anything personal about yourself can feel like a risk, and should be done in a way that makes you feel comfortable, according to Michelle Carlstrom, a licensed clinical social worker and senior director at the office of work, life and engagement at Johns Hopkins University.
It's important to remember that you are not your illness, and therefore should never feel ashamed of experiencing mental health issues, Carlstrom says. That being said, there are a few ways you can handle telling the people in your life about what you're experiencing. Below are a few tips.
Telling someone at work: According to research published by the United Kingdom's Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine, concealment of mental illness at work can be a source of stress for individuals. The researchers concluded that "disclosure provides the opportunity to request reasonable adjustments and may be psychologically advantageous," but many will still feel the need to hide mental health problems.
Unfortunately, since stigma is prevalent in our culture, that means there's a risk that a disclosure won't go as well as one would hope in the office, Carlstrom says. However, it's important to assert your needs based on what you feel is necessary for your productivity. "Many people don't stand up for themselves in the workplace, but if they advocate for themselves they may be able to get accommodations to suit their needs, whether that be a more flexible work schedule or some other way to control the pace of their day," she told The Huffington Post. If you're not comfortable telling a supervisor, Carlstrom recommends seeking a trusted co-worker for support.
Telling your loved ones: For your friends and family, it all comes down to education, Carlstrom says. Tell them how you feel and what it's like to experience what you're going through -- many of your loved ones may not even realize how difficult it is to suffer from one of these disorders. "Explain what the diagnosis means for you and the impact it has on your day-to-day life and well-being," she said.
When it comes down to it, Carlstrom reiterates that only you can decide what feels right when it comes to disclosing any health problems you may be experiencing. However, if it gets to the point where the illness is controlling your life, it's worth talking about it with someone you care about. Don't let yourself get to a place where you believe you have to handle mental health issues alone, she said: "We often think we can handle it, but sometimes we can't -- and that's okay."
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