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Arizona Opinion: Pledge Your Support for a Stigma-Free State

The following is the opinion and analysis of the writer: Have you ever heard someone say that those living with depression should just tough it out? Or that a person 

challenged by a substance use disorder is to blame for their condition? These are invalidating and untrue statements. Even as conversations surrounding behavioral health have become more prevalent and normalized in recent years, there are still many stigmatizing misconceptions around it.

The truth is — behavioral health conditions (encompassing both mental health conditions and substance use disorders) are health conditions just like diabetes or cancer and should be treated with the same importance and care. Unfortunately, many people aren’t getting that needed care.

Fast facts:

  • 1 in 7 people in the U.S. say they have experienced substance use disorder and at least 1 in 5 adults live with a mental health disorder.
  • About 60% of U.S. adults with a mental health condition don’t receive care.
  • Nearly 16% of U.S. adults had a substance use disorder in the past year. Of them, about 94% did not receive any form of treatment.
  • More than 1 million Arizona adults have a mental health condition, and more than 320,000 are not receiving needed mental health care.

There are a variety of reasons why someone might not get help, but we know that stigma and fear of others finding out is one of the main reasons. Bottom line: we need to stop stigma, so it doesn’t stop Arizonans from getting the care they need and deserve.

Pledge to support a Stigma-Free AZ

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona (AZ Blue) is paving the way to a stigma-free Arizona, and we can’t do it without you. AZ Blue launched a Stigma-Free AZ campaignand pledge to help end behavioral health stigma in our state. Please join us in our effort to normalize and remove barriers to behavioral health care. It starts with a commitment — a pledge — to reduce stigma, and it takes less than 30 seconds! All you have to do is input your name, county, and email if you want. Take the pledge by visiting: azblue.com/stigmafreeaz.

It’s one small step that can make a BIG difference to someone who has experienced the sting of stigma firsthand. Each pledge is a visual and tangible representation of support. Our hope is that those who see that support will feel empowered to reach out for help — knowing there is a multitude of Arizonans rooting for them.

Why is behavioral health care so important?

Substance use disorder recovery, an ongoing journey of healing from this chronic disease, is possible. Gaining a greater sense of control over a mental health condition is possible. Whether it’s therapy, medication, group support, self-help strategies, or other types of clinical help — there are methods that have been proven effective to manage or overcome behavioral health conditions. We want Arizonans to live their healthiest lives possible, and that is possible with the right course of care.

Behavioral health conditions are common and can happen to anyone. These struggles deserve attention, awareness, and treatment just like physical conditions — not shame and judgment. We need to create a culture of compassion and understanding around behavioral health, so Arizonans get the support they need. That is the heart of the Stigma-Free AZ campaign, and you can do your part by taking the pledge.

I encourage you to also learn more about different types of behavioral health conditions to help eliminate the harmful prejudices and stereotypes.

Source: Tucson