Why Not Suffer in Silence?
– Saima Eman
This letter is addressed to the UK and US immigration policy makers, employers and organisations regarding the provision of information about consulting a psychologist or a psychiatrist. Belonging to a poor country, being a Muslim(Amri & Bemak, 2013; Ciftci, Jones, & Corrigan, 2013) and on top of that being forced to disclose information about seeking psychological help from a counselor Is not only a threat to obtaining a rejection of a visa application but poses a threat to the individual’s personal wellbeing as well as his family with a long series of investigations, involving a permanent stigma that would carry along throughout life while applying for jobs, driving license, a loan, life insurance and so forth(Acuña & Bolis, 2005, July; Zartaloudi & Madianos, 2010). Perhaps it is easier to “mask anxiety”(Newhouse, 2014, March) or suffer in silence rather facing risks to one’s credibility for entire life.Even a convicted person is possibly better off in life than a person who seeks advice from a mental health professional(Edwards, 2000). It is impossible to remove the stigma attached to a person from a marginalised group (Nadeem et al., 2007) unless people in the key positions consider revising their policies regarding breach of confidentiality with respect to psychological help seeking in their application forms.
If those in authority look at the situation from an empathetic point of view, considering the fact that there may have been moments in your life when you would have been disappointed, sad, or let down;then it may help you realise that nobody in this world is free from fears, daily anxieties, worries and traumatic experiences. At one point or another each one of us encounters something horrific. The important thing is that when someone seeks help for any kind of mental health problem, it should not be made an issue through documentation of that personal problem because it adversely affects the help seeker’s whole life including that of his significant others. If the current documentation practices continue, either people will lie in disclosing information regarding seeking help from a psychologist or psychological counselling will become useless and in fact daunting and dangerous to the welfare of the individuals, particularly those from the marginalised groups. People will keep on suffering in silence (Barry & Mizrahi, 2005).
Acuña, C., & Bolis, M. (2005, July). Stigmatization and access to health care in Latin America: Challenges and perspectives. In Trabajo presentado en el XXIX Congress of the International Academy of Law and Mental Health.del (Vol. 4). from http://www.heart-intl.net/HEART/120606/Stigmatization%26Accessto.pdf
Amri, S., & Bemak, F. (2013). Mental Health Help-Seeking Behaviors of Muslim Immigrants in the United States: Overcoming Social Stigma and Cultural Mistrust. Journal of Muslim Mental Health, 7(1).
Barry, D. T., & Mizrahi, T. C. (2005). Guarded self-disclosure predicts psychological distress and willingness to use psychological services among East Asian immigrants in the United States. J Nerv Ment Dis, 193(8), 535-539.
Ciftci, A., Jones, N., & Corrigan, P. W. (2013). Mental health stigma in the Muslim community. Journal of Muslim Mental Health, 7(1).
Edwards, K. A. (2000). Stigmatizing the Stigmatized: A Note on the Mentally Ill Prison Inmate. International Journal of Offender Therapy and Comparative Criminology, 44(4), 480-489. doi: 10.1177/0306624X00444006
Nadeem, E., Lange, J. M., Edge, D., Fongwa, M., Belin, T., & Miranda, J. (2007). Does stigma keep poor young immigrant and U.S.-born Black and Latina women from seeking mental health care? Psychiatr Serv, 58(12), 1547-1554. doi: 10.1176/appi.ps.58.12.1547
Newhouse, N. (2014, March). Talking about the experiences of daily life with chronic anxiety
Woman’s Hour, BBC Radio 4. The Psychologist, 27, 203.
Zartaloudi, A., & Madianos, M. (2010). Stigma related to help-seeking from a mental health professional. Health Science Journal. 2, 4(2).