7 Ways to Fight Off Mental Health Stigma
Mental health disorders such as depression, anxiety are schizophrenia very common around the world. But even in spite of it being so well-known around the world, mental health stigma still persists. As if the world doesn’t have enough stigmas around already.
To have someone who is medically and legitimately diagnosed with a psychological disability, which is something beyond their control and then be blamed for it is just downright cruel and unfair. People who are none the wiser, also known as detractors, often regard mental health symptoms are a “phase” that one can control “if they just tried.”
Perhaps the reason why mental health stigmatization even persists is due to how poorly or never mentioned at all in public media and the lack of wide accessibility to mental health care. Nevertheless, we must try our best to level these problems even if it is by having a healthy conversation about it.
Mental Health Awareness Month, which is usually reserved for May shouldn’t be the only month where we advocate for the rights of mental health patients. So let’s take a look at the various ways we can avert mental health stigma for MHAM and beyond:
1. Talk About it Without Feeling Shame
Mental health patients should be encouraged to talk about mental health without feeling ashamed. Talking it out with their family, close friends and colleagues can lighten the load off of their chests and then help them build the courage to open up about it with other people.
2. Document Your Struggles and Transformation
These days, people put up YouTube videos to document their personal struggles with injuries, diseases and sickness to inform people from around the world about how difficult it is for them to live a normal life.
It might seem humiliating on their end, but in the end, viewers will become more aware of their situation and start empathizing with them as well. They may also be inspired to donate to a patient’s operation or surgery through crowdfunding. There is no shame in admitting that you’re struggling or that you need help.
3. Be Wary of Your Vocabulary
Sometimes stigma comes with the wrong usage of words and phrases. An example, if someone is diagnosed with bipolar disorder, you don’t say “He’s bipolar”. Instead, you substitute it with “He is living with bipolar disorder.” People are more than willing to replace such words with something else if someone can just explain to them why their words are problematic.
4. Get Educated
According to a study published in the Journal of Abnormal Psychology, it reveals that more than 80% of people are going to experience mental illness at least once in their lifetime. But if that really is the case, then why is mental health continuously being stigmatized to this day? The reason behind this is because everyone has a different mental health experience.
Apart from varying individual symptoms, the ability to manage mental health and access to proper healthcare creates a disparity among people who experience depression, anxiety, and bipolar disorder.
5. View Mental Health Folks as People First
When it comes to mental health, we really should consider talking about it on a personal level first and then a clinical level. Behind the complex figures, charts and best sleep supplements is a person that we have to try and reach out to before considering their diagnosis. This is one of the better ways to quell mental health stigma.
A person who lives with a certain mental illness is more affected by it than the one who doesn’t, so it’s better to not bring that up while we try to interact with them.
6. Be Kind to Those with Mental Illness
There are certain demographics that are disproportionately affected by mental illness when it comes to access and care. A report from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development shows that there are 26% of homeless adults who live in shelters with serious mental illness. Among youths aged 10-24, suicide is the third largest cause of death.
In order to combat this grim reality, we should try offering then homeless more than just hugs; we should donate some of our old stuff to them as well as feed them whenever the time suits it. Doing it in public might also inspire folks around you to do the same.
7. Combat Self-Stigma
To reiterate, experiencing mental illness is a common thing which one should never be ashamed to acknowledge. It doesn’t mean that you go around and have harmful ideas about mental health like saying depression is something that one needs to “get over.” In fact, it will only do more harm than any good whether someone tells you about it or it is something you tell yourself. Also, it is very difficult to change the way we talk and think about ourselves.
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