Skip Navigation
Select Language
Health Care

Understanding Mental Health Stigma: Depression & Anxiety

May 29, 2024
Understanding Mental Health Stigma: Depression & Anxiety

Mental health is important, but many people don’t get the help they need because of the way society looks at it. At GHC-SCW, we’re trying to change that. We believe everyone should be able to get good mental health care without feeling judged or left out. That’s why we’re breaking down mental health stigma and how it impacts those with depression and anxiety.


Understanding Mental Health Stigma

Sadly, lots of people still have the wrong ideas about mental health. Some think anyone with mental health problems is dangerous or not capable. This can make people who are struggling with their mental health feel like they have to keep it a secret. And it can stop them from getting the help they need.


What is Depression?

Depression is a common, serious medical illness. It negatively affects how you feel, the way you think, and how you act, often leading to feelings of sadness and/or a loss of interest in activities you once enjoyed. Depression can lead to a variety of emotional and physical problems and can decrease your ability to function at work and at home. Depression symptoms can vary from mild to severe and can include:

  • Feeling sad or having a depressed mood
  • Loss of interest or pleasure in activities once enjoyed
  • Changes in appetite — weight loss or gain unrelated to dieting
  • Trouble sleeping or sleeping too much
  • Loss of energy or increased fatigue
  • Increase in purposeless physical activity (e.g., inability to sit still, pacing, handwringing) or slowed movements or speech (these actions must be severe enough to be observable by others)
  • Feeling worthless or guilty
  • Difficulty thinking, concentrating or making decisions
  • Thoughts of death or suicide

Symptoms must last at least two weeks and must represent a change in your previous level of functioning for a diagnosis of depression.


What Causes Depression?

While we don’t know the exact cause, there are a lot of factors that influence depression. Common triggers can include:

  • A family history of depression
  • Going through a stressful life event
  • An abnormal reaction over the loss of a loved one
  • Interpersonal disputes
  • Abuse
  • Major life events like moving or retiring, etc.
  • Serious, major, chronic or terminal illnesses
  • Substance abuse
  • Being socially isolated or excluded

Learn More About Depression


What is Anxiety?

Anxiety or an anxiety disorder can cause intense, excessive, or consistent worry and fear about everyday situations. These feelings can interfere with daily life, don’t match the actual danger of a situation and are difficult to control. Some of the symptoms of anxiety include:

  • Feeling nervous, restless or tense
  • Feeling helpless
  • A sense of impending panic, danger or doom
  • Having GI problems
  • Increased heart rate
  • Rapid or trouble breathing
  • Sweating
  • Trembling
  • Trouble concentrating or thinking about anything other than your anxious thought, including controlling your worry
  • Trouble sleeping or eating


What Causes Anxiety?

The exact cause of anxiety is not fully understood, but there are certain factors that are known to influence it. Experiences, especially traumatic events, can trigger anxiety or anxiety disorders, particularly in individuals who are already prone to anxiety. Other factors and risks include:

  • A family history of anxiety
  • Underlying health issues
  • Side effects of medications
  • Trauma
  • Other mental health disorders
  • Stressful life events
  • Drugs or alcohol use

Learn More About Anxiety


Making It Easier to Get Help

At GHC-SCW, we’re trying to make it easier for people to get help. We offer video appointments for mental health care, so people can talk to a doctor or therapist from their home. This makes it more convenient and private for them. We also have a program that provides intensive outpatient care through video, so people all over Wisconsin can get help.


Getting Help in Your Language

Cultural and language barriers can also prevent people from seeking care. That’s why we offer interpreter services in Spanish, Hmong and Laotian for in-person, video and phone appointments. We’re also working to have more mental health care providers who come from different backgrounds, so everyone feels understood and welcome.


Our Efforts to Reduce Mental Health Stigma

At GHC-SCW, we’re always working to make it easier for people to get mental health care. We do this by:

  • Educating people about mental health to help them understand it better
  • Offering different kinds of support for different people’s needs
  • Ensure our mental health care providers come from different backgrounds, so everyone can find someone they feel comfortable with


Join Us in Breaking the Stigma

We want everyone to be a part of breaking the stigma around mental health. By getting help when you need it, talking openly about mental health, and supporting others who are struggling, we can build a community that’s more accepting and supportive.


Helpful Resources

To learn more about mental illness and how to educate yourself and others about mental health stigma, check out the links below.


Call To Action

GHC-SCW Behavioral Health

If you or someone you know is struggling with mental health, addiction or behavioral issues, our team provides a wide range of services to help.

Visit Our Behavioral Health Page