According to Psychiatry.org, more than half of those struggling with mental illness don’t receive the treatment they need. While this is partially due to lack of access, the issue also stems from the negative stigma around mental health. Changing this narrative is essential to increasing awareness, improving access and helping yourself and others receive support.
Here are four simple ways to contribute to the conversation and combat mental health stigma.
- Become informed. The first step is to educate yourself on mental health, mental illness and the stigma around it. Understanding mental health will allow you to engage in healthy conversations based on facts and science rather than opinions that may or may not be helpful. Reading this blog means you’re off to a great start!
- Seek care for yourself. Lead by example. Seek therapy when you need it and take self-care days regularly—even when life is going well. Being proactive about your wellbeing will help you stay healthy and help others to do the same.
- Choose your words carefully. The words you use in conversation impact how you and others view mental health. Avoid terms like “crazy” or “insane” because they are overgeneralizing, incorrect and degrading. Instead, try using phrases like “person experiencing a mental illness,” or use the technical term for their diagnosis just like you would any other medical condition. This will help separate the person’s identity from what they are going through.
- Donate to charities. Another way to fight against stigma is by donating to mental health charities and nonprofits. A quick Google search will list the organizations in your area, what they stand for, whom they help and more. Of course, if you cannot donate money, consider volunteering instead!
Any step towards destigmatizing mental health and seeking care for mental illnesses is worth the effort. Still, if you’re unsure what to do in a situation, remember that practicing empathy and caring for others is always a great way to help someone in need.