Careers where you use your master’s in counseling are admirable, yet the patients you serve may feel stigmatized. Why do they feel this way—and what can you do about it?

Use Your Counseling Degree to Reduce the Stigma of Mental Health ConditionsStigmas are negative stereotypes attributed to an individual because of a personal characteristic they may possess. Stigmas are often tied to false beliefs about those personal characteristics. For those suffering from mental health disorders, social stigmas can be as severe as they are pervasive. But professionals whose careers center on clinical mental health counseling provide self-help steps and programs to enable individuals to overcome the fear of those negative perceptions—and seek the help they need for their underlying condition.

These statistics from the National Alliance of Mental Illness offer some insight into the scope of this particular issue:*

  • One in four U.S. adults—approximately 61.5 million—experiences a mental illness in a given year.
  • About 13.6 million live with a serious mental illness such as schizophrenia, major depression, or bipolar disorder.
  • Half of all chronic mental illness begins by the age of 14.
  • Suicide is the tenth leading cause of death in the U.S. and the third leading cause of death for those ages 15 to 24.

These same statistics also indicate how many people could suffer by not seeking treatment due to their fear of stigmas. Stigmas and a resulting failure to seek clinical mental health counseling can result in:

  • Lack of understanding by family, friends, coworkers, or others who could otherwise provide support.
  • Fewer opportunities for—or reluctance to seek—work, school, social activities, and even housing.
  • Bullying, physical violence, or harassment.
  • Health insurance that doesn't adequately cover treatment because patients are reluctant to disclose the full nature of their symptoms.
  • Individuals’ belief that they won’t succeed at certain challenges, or can’t improve their situation.

Those statistics and the potential impact of not seeking treatment reinforce the need for accessible, expert mental health care—and can be a great motivator for anyone seeking a master’s degree in clinical mental health counseling.

If you’re interested in helping those who suffer from mental health conditions, you may be interested in exploring the online counseling degrees offered by Walden University. Walden’s CACREP-accredited MS in Clinical Mental Health Counseling degree program is an ideal choice for working professionals who need the flexibility and convenience online learning offers.

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