BAC Journal > Stand Up to Stigma!

Stand Up to Stigma!

2021 Issue 2

When it comes to seeking professional counseling, times are changing for the better. Amidst the COVID pandemic, when there are universal crises negatively impacting our lives and most feel increasingly high levels of stress, there is more empathy, awareness and understanding about the need to reach out for help. Further, there is growing momentum to stand up against the stigma of seeking professional help. Humanitarian sentiments unite us in a desire to extend a helping hand, and to weather problems together instead of alone.

With news reports that completed suicides and opioid overdose deaths are not only skyrocketing, but are worse than ever before in history – there is a common push to end any shame and stigma that prevents those suffering from reaching out for help. Common sense and good judgment, along with human decency, tell us that seeking treatment for mental health and substance use problems should be viewed no differently than getting help for physical health ailments. Just as we do not criticize those with diabetes as being “at fault” for their condition, we should refrain from using pejorative labels against those with emotional or substance use concerns. Mental health and substance use problems are treatable illnesses, not character flaws.

Understanding Counseling 

Modern professional counseling is akin to coaching. People from all walks of life seek counseling, not just the chronic severely mentally ill. Therapy is about skill building, enhancing coping strategies, and receiving education and encouragement to heal. Further, there’s a new-found, firm awareness that being in counseling doesn’t mean you’re weak or crazy. Instead, it signifies having the courage to partner with a professional to work towards achieving self-improvement and personal growth.  

Professional Counseling Helps People Heal Faster and Stay Well Longer

Here’s why:

  • The coping skills learned and practiced in counseling become a permanent part of the people’s coping repertoire, helping them maintain healthier lives now and in the future.
  • People are empowered to remain accountable for their problems and prevented from sinking into apathy, complacency, and despair.
  • People benefit from opening up about problems in a safe, confidential, professional atmosphere. Talking with a professional about private concerns helps keep problems from spiraling further out-of-control and reduces urges to self-medicate with drugs or alcohol.

The International Union of Bricklayers and Allied Craftworkers (BAC) supports members and their families working to achieve “whole health,” which consists of attending to one’s emotional well-being as well as physical health. The BAC Member Assistance Program (MAP) offers active and retired members and their families free professional assistance and guidance by licensed mental health and substance abuse professionals. MAP can be reached toll-free at 1-888-880-8222 from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. EST Monday-Friday. All calls are strictly confidential. We’re here to listen, guide, and support confidential access to care.