Let’s Have an Open Dialogue About the Stigma of Mental Illness

Interview: Dr. Colleen Cira, Psy.D.

Dr. Colleen Cira is a Licensed Clinical Psychologist as well as the Founder and Executive Director of Cira Center for Behavioral Health, PC. She is an anxiety and trauma expert as well as a consultant, supervisor, speaker, writer and advocate.

Talking points for an interview:

How Stigmas and Misconceptions on Mental Illness Impact Quality of Life, Opportunity, and Wellness
      • For the longest time, mental health difficulties have been equated to being “crazy.”  Women who struggle with mental health are typically seen as “hysterical” or “weak” and men can be perceived the same way or as “aggressive” and “angry,” depending on the presentation.  And when we decide that someone’s experience isn’t valid for whatever reason (weakness, vulnerability, being “hysterical” being angry, etc.), not only do we disempower them, we also devalue them as a human being.
      • That experience—of constantly feeling sidelined, not taken seriously, and devalued—can create a vicious cycle where people feel destined to fail or be misunderstood so they stop trying, which only increases people’s negative perceptions which only increases that person’s hopelessness and lack of effort to change things.
      • I dream of a world where tears are a sign of strength, not weakness.  Where genuine human connection, with your clients and colleagues, is seen as an asset, not a liability.  Where being honest about the things that matter to you is seen as courageous, not unprofessional. Where vulnerability is seen as brave, not as overly sensitive or unhinged.  Where periods of anxiety, sadness, or relational upset, are seen as HUMAN, not pathological.
        Acceptance Versus Judgement
        in Today’s Society
        • Old habits die hard, don’t they!  America, and the world really, has a long history of stigmatizing folks who struggle with mental illness and because we’ve been doing that for a long time, it’s built into our brains, our places of work, our families and every other system we can think of.
        • When a problem is systemic—like this or racism, sexism, homophobia, etc.—it takes a lot of very conscious and deliberate effort by lots of different people over the course of decades to make individual changes and systemic changes that eventually lead to societal changes.
        • Like most things, we’ve gotten a lot better about understanding mental health and therefore being more accepting of it, but we still have a long way to go.


Available for Interviews: Dr. Colleen Cira, Psy.D.

Dr. Colleen Cira received both her Masters and Doctorate from The Illinois School of Professional Psychology and is a Licensed Clinical Psychologist in the State of Illinois.  She’s the Founder and Executive Director of Cira Center for Behavioral Health, PC, a boutique group practice specializing in Women and Trauma with locations in Chicago and Oak Park.

She was named one of the “Top 100 Women in Chicago Making a Difference,” by Today’s Chicago Woman. Dr. Cira is a trauma and anxiety expert, clinical supervisor, writer, speaker, consultant, activist, wife, and Mommy to two little ones.

Jo Allison
PR Managing Editor
Success In Media, Inc.