There has been a lot of talk in the media in recent years about how society needs to “end the stigma” associated with mental illness. Yet people continue to struggle in silence. Stopping stigma is a beautiful idea. But how can we take this noble idea from concept to concrete action? Here are some ideas.
Tips to End Mental Health Stigma
Talk about mental health matter-of-factly & unashamedly
If you or someone you love have had mental health challenges, being open and honest about them without apologizing or showing shame will encourage others to do the same. It might be hard to get those first sentences out, but think of it as something you’re doing for others as well as for yourself.
If you get a negative reaction, please don’t take it personally. Maybe the person hasn’t yet come to terms with their own or a loved one’s mental health. Don’t let it stop you in your quest to help end the stigma. If speaking about your experiences in person is too hard, try putting pen to paper and letting out your story in a different way.
Get educated & share the 411
Even in this information age, a lot of misinformation is spread about mental health. Remember that everything you read online isn’t necessarily true. Consult qualified professionals and the most highly respected online medical sources if you are looking for quality information.
Be mindful of how you talk about mental illness
“I had to wait in line for an hour to get my driver’s license renewed! I felt like slitting my wrists!” “I can’t believe he committed suicide.” “You can’t get out of bed? Are you crazy or something?” These are all common phrases that people say about mental health without realizing how their words impact those who experience mental health challenges. Joking about mental illness is deeply ingrained in our culture to the point that the person joking often doesn’t mean any harm. But the truth is that words matter. Encourage others to refrain from using mental health conditions as adjectives and analogies, and kindly explain how such language can be harmful if you are in a position to do so.
Put mental and physical illness on the same level
Mental illness is a biological illness that affects behavior. A lot of people don’t realize or haven’t considered that mental illness includes biological factors and disorders that affect the brain. We may not see mental health disorders the same way we can see someone who broke their leg. But the pain can be just as terrible and both mental and physical challenges deserve attention.
Being ignored (or worse) by those who don’t know how to push past their discomfort and show compassion is difficult for many who experience severe mental health challenges. Even a smile and a hello can keep them from feeling worse and might even lift their mood. Your kindness will not only lift up those will mental health challenges, but it will also instruct and inspire others who might not know the best way to interact with them.
The symptoms of mental illness can make you want to just disappear. That negative self-talk is often more stigmatizing than what others are saying. Fight back by refusing to stigmatize yourself. Don’t hide away in shame. Be as productive as you feel you can be. Some days will be better than others.
We can all be a part of the problem, and we can all be a part of the solution when it comes to mental health. Remember that words matter and how you speak about mental health matters, both online and in person. There is always someone listening. If your business wants to be a part of the solution and share information that de-stigmatizes mental health, Watch Media Group and help you make that information quality, consistent, and SEO-optimized.