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Overcoming the Stigma of Mental Health Treatment

We have learned a great deal about the impact of trauma on children's mental health, and the value of appropriate mental health treatment. Children with untreated trauma suffer tremendously, and we have the tools to alleviate much of that suffering. In addition to financial barriers, families still face barriers created by the stigma attached to mental health treatment.

In Maine, an innovative program called THRIVE sought to reach out to a community that included many refugees from areas of the world touched by war. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) found that

...many people in the community felt that mental health services were "because something is wrong with you." To change this perception, THRIVE began to emphasize that services were "because of what happened to you" and highlighted the message that children, youth, and families can be resilient in the face of stress. People from all backgrounds responded positively to this approach, and THRIVE has been able to connect with the community and improve the lives of many people.

—SAMSHA, 2011

As therapists and advocates, we must reach out into the community and educate people about the value of mental health treatment for children, especially those who have been affected by trauma. Start by using some of the resources below to increase awareness and reduce stigma. A partnership between mental health treatment providers and advocates can create real change within a community.


Resources

Reviewed: October 28th, 2015