May 02

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How You can Help Fight Mental Health Stigma

How You can Help Fight Mental Health Stigma

How You can Help Fight Mental Health Stigma

May is National Mental Health Awareness Month for 2017!   The National Alliance on Mental Illness shares that one out of every five adults in the United States suffers from a mental health problem every year, yet the stigma continues. The unfair beliefs associated with mental health issues create shame, guilt and fear. Stigma discourages people from seeking help and makes them afraid to let loved ones know there is a problem. However, you can help fight stigma.

Recognize the Problem

Stigma cannot be eliminated until it is recognized, and there is a joint effort to fight it. For example, one study found that one out of four people viewed someone with depression as weak and shared that they would not hire that person. This is why many people with mental health issues are scared to talk about their problems and refuse to seek help. The first step is recognizing that stigma exists and hurts those who have mental illnesses.

Speak Up

It is not enough to recognize the problem, nod your head in agreement and move on. Stigma will not disappear unless it is challenged. If you see someone who is afraid to talk about their mental health issues, this is your chance to speak up and support them. In addition, you should speak up when you see others shaming or making fun of people with mental illnesses. You may not change the mind of a person who mocks depression or bipolar disorder, but someone who suffers from these conditions will see your efforts and appreciate them.

One of the reasons stigma is allowed to persist is related to the common occurrence of people hiding their mental health problems. To fight this, you must advocate for them and talk candidly about mental illness. It should never be an excuse for shame or blame. You can help reduce or eliminate stigma with your voice.  

I do this by posting candidly about mental health on this blog and keep telling everyone, mental health is no different than having a medical condition like diabetes or cancer!   People need to get over this stigma and treat those of us with mental health conditions the same as anyone else!

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