How YOU can Help End the Stigma Around Mental Health
Despite the fact that 1 out of every 3 Canadians will be affected by a mental illness in their lifetime, mental health continues to be a topic that is taboo for many people due to the stigma still surrounding it. Unfortunately, this stigma results in many of those facing issues with their mental health to be wrongfully shamed and ridiculed, which prevents us from reaching out and getting the help that we need. This is why breaking the stigma around mental health is crucial. These are some popular strategies that we can all use to help fight the stigma and increase support.
Normalize Talking About Mental Health
Our most powerful tool can be our words. The conversations we engage in with those around us have the power to change the way that mental health is thought of. When we are open with others about our own mental health, it allows them to fully understand how we are impacted. Not only this, but it can empower them to also be open with others about their mental health.
Sharing our experiences with each other can provide hope and support, and spark the change that the mental health community needs to help break the stigma.
Educate Yourself and Others
More often than not, the stigma surrounding mental health begins with a misunderstanding of what mental health means. This lack of education allows people to believe that a person’s symptoms are fake, that they are overreacting, or that their mental illness is something that they can fully control. When we educate ourselves, then we can pass on our knowledge and debunk the myths that continue to circulate.
Be Honest About Mental Health Treatment
Talking about only mental health is not enough; it is also important to normalize the treatments and services that are available. Many people still feel ashamed for going to therapy or practicing mindfulness techniques which prevents them from utilizing the treatments that can benefit them enormously. If we can easily say that we have an appointment with our primary care doctor, then it should be just as easy for us to say we have an appointment with our therapist.
Speak Out Against the Stigma
Not only must we normalize talking about mental health, but we also need to hold those accountable when they are spreading messages that keep the stigma going and provide feedback so that they have the opportunity to do better. We must not be bystanders in the fight against the mental health stigma if we wish to see a change; we need to be an active voice of change.
Some good news is that we have seen a decline in the severity of the stigma in recent years, with people becoming more open about their mental health, and treatments such as therapy increasing in popularity. However, the fight is still ongoing and we must all actively help to create change if we want a more inclusive and understanding society for those in the mental health community.
Children’s Health. (n.d.). 5 Ways to End Mental Health Stigma. https://www.childrens.com/health-wellness/5-ways-to-end-mental-health-stigma
Government of Canada. (2020, January 20). Stop the Stigma of Mental Health Issues and Disorders. https://www.canada.ca/en/department-national-defence/maple-leaf/defence/2020/01/stop-stigma-mental-health-issues-disorders.html
Greenstein, L. (2017, October 11). 9 Ways to Fight the Mental Health Stigma. National Alliance on Mental Illness. https://www.nami.org/blogs/nami-blog/october-2017/9-ways-to-fight-mental-health-stigmaNiagara Health. (2019, January 25). Ways to reduce stigma of mental illness. https://www.niagarahealth.on.ca/site/news/2019/01/25/ways-to-reduce-stigma-of-mental-illness