IS Low Self Esteem and Confidence Considered a Mental Illness?

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What is the definition of self-esteem?
Self-esteem refers to how we regard and appreciate ourselves. It’s founded on our perceptions and assumptions about ourselves, which might be tough to change at times.

Your self-esteem influences whether you like and value yourself as a person, are capable of making decisions and asserting yourself, and recognise your strengths and positive qualities. Feel free to try new or challenging things, be gentle to yourself, move over mistakes without unfairly criticising yourself, and take the time you need for yourself. Believe you matter and are good enough.
Is poor self-esteem a sign of a mental illness?

Low self-esteem isn’t a mental health issue in and of itself, but it is linked to it. If a variety of factors have a long-term negative impact on your self-esteem, it may lead to mental health issues (for example depression or anxiety).

Low self-esteem can be a sign of a mental health problem, especially if it lasts for a long period or interferes with your daily activities. Consider the following scenario:

feeling useless or miserable, blaming oneself harshly, hating yourself, and worried about not being able to do anything
When you have a mental health problem, you may experience low self-esteem, making it difficult to cope or take actions to increase your self-esteem.

For additional information on these topics, read our pages on mental health difficulties and getting treatment for a mental health problem.

What’s it like to have a low sense of self-worth?
Watch Nathan, Hannah, Helen, Rishi, and Georgina discuss their low self-esteem experiences, including how it feels, what has helped them, and how friends and family may help.

“Building self-esteem for me was all about figuring out what self-esteem was in the first place. It was a process of unlearning everything I had previously learnt about myself… I went back to self-education and learnt everything there was to know about myself.”

What factors contribute to low self-esteem?

The factors that influence our self-esteem fluctuate from person to person. Your self-esteem may fluctuate abruptly, or you may have had low self-esteem for some time, making it difficult to recognise how you feel and make changes.

Difficult or stressful life experiences, such as the following, can often be a factor.

being attacked or bullied

being subjected to prejudice, discrimination, or stigma

losing your job or having trouble finding work

challenges at work or in school

on-going anxiety

issues with physical health

issues with mental health

Relationship issues, divorce, or separation

apprehensions about your physical appearance and body image

Money or housing issues are two of the most common concerns people face.

You may have had some of these troubles, as well as others not listed here. It’s also possible that there isn’t a single cause.

“My self-esteem has nearly vanished…. I no longer know how to engage with others and find it difficult to enjoy the things I enjoy.”

Whatever has harmed your self-esteem, it’s critical to remember that you have the right to be happy with who you are. It may appear that changing things will be difficult, but there are many things you can try to improve things gradually – for some ideas, read our self-esteem advice.

Self-esteem and stigma

Stigma, specifically stigma associated with mental health issues, can have a negative impact on one’s self-esteem. There are several suggestions on our website about stigma and misunderstandings that you might attempt.

You can also learn more about our campaigns to see how we are battling stigma against those who have mental health issues.

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