Would you feel guilty if you had a heart attack? The stigma of mental health, told in vignettes

As a doctor, Ignacio Rosell he knows perfectly the symptoms of an anxiety attack: shortness of breath, tachycardia, sweating … However, when he suffered one a few months ago, it was of little use to know them. “I was really scared,” he tells by phone to Verne, “I thought I was having a heart attack.” When Rosell, who also acts as secretary of the group of experts that advises the Junta de Castilla y León in the fight against covid-19, was treated by 112, he remembers that “before thanking them, I started to apologize” . “The next day was when I reflected on that, and on whether I would have reacted the same if, instead of an anxiety attack, I had had a heart attack. Would you have apologized in that case? No, and it’s because of the stigma surrounding mental health. “

Rosell counted this reflection on his Twitter account, and received dozens of responses. Many of them, acknowledging having felt the same. Along with his reflection, Rosell also shared a short comic on their networks “Which has been around for a while, I found it on social media years ago and I translated it myself,” he says. This compares, with humor, what would happen if we dedicate the topics and stereotypes that we dedicate to mental illnesses to physical diseases. “Everything that seems absurd when talking about physical illness should also be absurd with mental illness. I made that mistake, even against myself, “he wrote in the message.

The stigma of mental health, as explained to Verne The psychologist Sara González in this report is a process by which we accept stereotyped and negative beliefs linked to mental disorders. We not only channel these stereotypes towards others, but also towards ourselves, in what is known as internalized stigma. “This sometimes makes the person feel guilt, social anxiety … And they can even make the person prefer not to receive psychological help,” says González.

To help demolish that stigma, we have prepared a comic illustrated by Sara Caballería [autora del especial: ¿Qué sientes cuando sientes ansiedad?] Inspired by Rosell’s reflections on mental health and its stigma: Would you feel guilty if you had a heart attack?

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