Editorial – Breaking the stigma: The fight for mental health

Published 5:49 pm Tuesday, September 19, 2023

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The stigma surrounding mental health in the United States remains a significant barrier to well-being. It’s a complex issue deeply ingrained in society. Despite increased awareness and efforts to reduce stigma, it persists.

Public perception, as indicated by studies such as one conducted by the National Institutes of Health, reveals that there’s still work to be done. Stigmatizing attitudes can deter individuals from seeking help, exacerbating their suffering.

However, there is hope, initiatives and resources, like those offered by the Western Tidewater Community Services Board. To combat the stigma, WTCSB continues to provide mental health support to residents of Suffolk and Franklin, as well as Isle of Wight and Southampton Counties. Alongside providing services to children and adults and services for substance abuse and crisis sufferers, WTCSB offers same-day access and intellectual and developmental disability services for residents in need. 

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To address the stigma effectively, continued education, empathetic communication, and mental health promotion as a fundamental aspect of overall well-being are crucial. It’s a collective effort to reshape perceptions, and it begins with each of us acknowledging that mental health is as vital as physical health.

In addition, WTCSB continues expanding its services to those needing mental health care.

The recently announced the launch of its Region 5 Crisis Receiving Center, an urgent behavioral health care program at its Chuckatuck office at 5268 Godwin Blvd., during a Mental Health briefing during the City Council’s Sept. 6 work session. 

While mental health stigma in the United States persists, there are encouraging signs of change. Efforts by WTCSB and others to combat stigma through education, awareness, and empathy are essential to creating a society where everyone feels comfortable seeking the help they need.