Mental Health Awareness Month: Erasing the stigma around getting professional help


BINGHAMTON, NY – May is Mental Health Awareness Month and NewsChannel 34 spoke with licensed Psychotherapist Dr. Francis Battisti on how to live a balanced life while keeping your mental health in check.

This is the final of the three part series on mental health awareness and maintenance (make sure to check out part 1 and part 2).

Battisti has been a practicing psychotherapist for 30 years, served as a counselor at SUNY Broome, as well as taught psychology classes and served as the Executive VP and Chief Academic Officer.

He now speaks around the country.

As the pandemic slows, many people are finding themselves anxious about the re-opening situation.

If you’ve done the best you can to combat the dark thoughts and feeling and still feel stuck, Battisti says it’s ok and that you’re not alone.

“I think the stigma really, in so many ways, is really built on unfounded ideas and old ideas,” Battisti says about getting help.

He adds, “It’s not anything that’s bad, it’s just like getting a cold or some other illness. It’s something that we all can suffer from.”

Sometimes, we do our best and it’s still not enough.

And sometimes, our body can react in frightening ways, like having panic attacks or bouts of insomnia.

That can be when you know that professional help is what you need.

“It’s not something that you want to put off because sleep is so very, very important,” says Battisti. “We deserve it. Good mental health, physical and spiritual health is something that every person has a right to.”

Getting professional help can be intimating, especially if you’ve never done it before.

Some people may feel ashamed that they’ve found themselves in this situation, and the shame can make an already anxious person feel even worse.

“I believe the strong person is the one who can say, ‘There’s a situation here and I need to seek assistance,” Battisti says.

Of course, he adds that sometimes people come in with the misconception that professionals can fix them, instead of giving them tools to help themselves.

So going on walks, limiting screen time and leaning into spirituality and other soothing behaviors are all very important to keep in practice. Read more about anxiety-reliving activities here.

Battisti says nobody is mentally well all the time, and if you’re deciding on if you need a professional or not, it’s ultimately about how well you can function.

“If you’re feeling like you’re not able to accomplish things that you’re usually able to accomplish, and you find yourself really removing yourself and just not feeling good, that’s when you want to seek the assistance of a professional,” Battisti says.

Battisti adds that there a lots of great local options if you feel like it’s time to get help.

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