Understanding Self-Stigma Among College Students with Mental Health Struggles

Written by Marc Lehman

Family therapist and owner of U ARE HEARD

Having mental health issues is something  that affects many college students, but unfortunately, it is often overlooked. This is due in part to the stigma that surrounds mental health issues and the negative connotations associated with them. Unfortunately, this stigma can be even more pronounced among college students who are grappling with mental health issues themselves. This phenomenon is known as self-stigma – when individuals internalize negative messages about their own mental illness. It’s important for parents of college students to understand self-stigma and how it can impact their children’s mental health.

What Is Self-Stigma?

Self-stigma occurs when individuals internalize society’s negative attitudes towards mental illness and begin to believe those attitudes themselves. It manifests as feelings of shame, embarrassment, guilt, and low self-esteem. It can also lead to fear of seeking help or treatment because individuals fear being judged or labeled negatively by others. The result is that people may hide their mental illness from family members, friends, and healthcare professionals, which can lead to further deterioration of their condition.

How Can Parents Help?

Parents can play an important role in helping their college student children overcome self-stigma by showing acceptance and understanding of the situation and offering support without judgement. They should also provide resources such as mental health services on campus or in the community that they feel may be useful for their child. Additionally, it’s important for parents to talk openly about the importance of maintaining good physical and emotional wellbeing during college years and beyond. This conversation should emphasize that there is no shame in seeking help if needed – just like visiting a doctor for any other medical issue – so that your child knows you are supportive regardless of what they may be going through mentally or emotionally.

Self-stigma surrounding mental health issues can have a huge impact on college students who are struggling with these issues themselves. It’s up to parents to understand what self-stigma is and how it affects their children so they can best support them during this crucial time in life. Showing acceptance, providing resources, and emphasizing the importance of seeking help if needed are all ways that parents can help their kids navigate these difficult waters while maintaining good physical and emotional wellbeing overall.  By doing this, parents will go a long way towards helping their child overcome self-stigma related to mental health issues while ensuring they receive the care they need during this difficult transition period into adulthood.