Since 1949, the month of May has been observed as Mental Health Awareness month. Each year, millions of Americans experience the reality of coping with mental health difficulties. This month is dedicated to spreading awareness of different mental health issues and fighting stigma related to mental health and illness.
Why is it important to talk about mental health stigma?
Mental health stigma is harmful to our society and to those who experience mental health issues because it creates an environment of fear, shame, and silence. An environment like this prevents people from obtaining the help or treatment they need and can often worsen symptoms. By shedding light on stigma surrounding mental health, we can disprove the myths surrounding mental illness and facilitate social inclusion and acceptance of mental health issues.
5 ways you can fight mental health stigma for Mental Health Awareness Month
- Have conversations about mental health
When we talk openly about our own struggles with mental health and allow spaces for others to share, we normalize the experience and fight the shame and secrecy surrounding it.
- Educate yourself
The term “Mental Health” covers a wide array of difficulties. It is important to educate yourself about these difficulties through books/articles and interacting with individuals who struggles with these difficulties.
- Be conscious of language
Language matters when it comes to speaking about mental health. Be aware of ways in which you may unknowingly use a term incorrectly and learn the most appropriate ways of speaking about mental illness without stigmatizing others. An example of this would be referring to a person who has Schizophrenia as a “person with schizophrenia” instead of a “schizophrenic.”
- Encourage equality between physical and mental illness
Physical illness is often treated with more regard than mental since mental difficulties are often unseen and less straightforward to treat. Be aware of moments where you may minimize the importance of a mental illness.
- Media awareness
A major contributor to stigma is the media and the portrayals of individual’s with mental illness on the news, in movies or on television shows. Being aware of inaccurate portrayals is key in addition to sharing this awareness with others.
For more ideas on how to increase awareness of mental health and fight mental health stigma, visit the following website: