3 WAYS TO REDUCE THE MENTAL HEALTH STIGMA
Updated: Mar 1, 2020
Ever heard someone say, “Mental health issues weren’t that common back in the day.” or “How is depression different from just having a bad day?” If you’ve heard comments like these, you’ve witnessed the mental health stigma firsthand. Here at You Got This, we strive to initiate important discussions that will lead to building strong mental health support systems. In order to do this, we must first address what we are up against, and how mental health is often viewed in the world today.
So, what is a stigma?
A stigma is a set of unfair and often negative beliefs that are commonly accepted by society or large groups of people. When it comes to mental health illnesses and disorders, it’s common for people to not believe those that are suffering with these issues because unlike physical disorders, mental health problems can often not be seen.
Societal issues such as these can seem overwhelming and too big to fix, but we’re here to remind you that you can make a difference! Here are 3 things you can do everyday to reduce the mental health stigma:
#1 Promote Equality Between Mental and Physical Health
Just because it cannot be seen, doesn’t mean it does not exist. Think back to a time one of your loved ones had a physical illness or injury. Were you sympathetic? Were you supportive? Were you there to provide them help if they needed it? Chances are, you were. It’s very likely that we all have a friend or loved one that is battling depression, anxiety or other mental illnesses right now, whether we know it or not.
Mental illnesses are real—whether we can see them or not. We should all strive to educate the people around us about these unseen issues, and continue to learn more about how we can support those around us when they need us most.
#2 Be Aware of Your Language
Words are powerful, and can cause a lot of harm if used irresponsibly. An important part of being a mental health supporter is choosing your words wisely. So, to keep you on the right track, here are a few examples of what you should NOT say to someone struggling with mental illness:
“You’re acting crazy.”
“It seems like you’re just faking it to get attention.”
“Just choose to be happy!”
Instead, say things like:
“I’m here if you need me.”
“Call me if you ever feel like talking about it.”
“How can I support you during this time?”
#3 Keep Talking About It!
Mental health is considered a taboo topic and therefore, it’s often not talked about openly—even among family and friends. The truth is, not many people are aware of the struggles that are associated with mental illnesses and don’t know the best way to support the people around them that might be facing these challenges. The best thing you can do for a friend, colleague, or loved one who may be facing these challenges is to let them know that you are there for them, and be willing to listen if they ever need to talk. The more open you are to having these conversations, the more you will learn. And the more you learn, the more you can help others.
The Bottom Line
Remember that the more a person struggling with mental heath issues can open up to you about their problems, the more likely they are to take the next step in getting help. A person who is made fun of, ridiculed, or humiliated for opening up will more than likely remain silent and their symptoms could worsen because of it.
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