10 Ways To Destigmatize Mental Health
As we near the end of May - Mental Health Awareness Month, it is important we continue to destigmatize mental health struggles and remain supportive of people struggling throughout the year!
Below are 10 ways to destigmatize mental health.
1.Talk Openly About Mental Health: In order to help normalize mental health, it can be helpful to share stories of how people overcame and/or continue to overcome mental health struggles. Social media is also a great platform to speak out positively about mental health and reach a larger audience who may be struggling with their mental health.
2.Do NOT Weaponize Mental Health: Our language around mental health symptoms and disorders is so important! When we refer to ourselves or someone as “I/they’re crazy” or “they have bipolar disorder,” we weaponize mental illness. We take mental health disorders and we make society and ourselves have negative attitudes towards, or even fearful of people who struggle with mental health disorders.
3.Mental Health Disorders Are NOT One’s Identity: Mental health is something we struggle with daily, it is NOT who we are as people. Our personalities are separate from our emotions and coping mechanisms.
4.Become Aware and Examine Your Own Judgments and Attitudes Towards Mental Health: Oftentimes, people’s upbringings and society reinforce one’s judgments and attitudes. Gaining insight into our judgements and attitudes towards mental health, allows people to actively try to educate themselves to gain more understanding and compassion.
5.Speak Out Against The Stigma: As a society, we need to continue to educate others and ourselves in order to remove attitudes and judgements towards mental health. Respond to misperceptions or negative comments by sharing facts and experiences. Let’s educate the younger generation on mental health so they can feel safe to seek help; as well as be more understanding of their peers, friends, and future colleagues about mental health.
6.Encourage and Support Therapy: There is NO shame in speaking to someone who can sympathize and teach coping skills to better manage mental health symptoms. As a society, it is important we all normalize and encourage therapy for everyone! In addition, there is NO shame in taking medication if it helps an individual live a life worth living. Look at medication as a cushion. It’s something to fall back on when mental health symptoms get overwhelming and the person is in need of support to access their coping skills!
7.Treat Mental Health The Same Way You Would Treat Physical Health: If someone is feeling lethargic and lacking motivation due to recovering from the flu or cold, would society shame them, or encourage them to take care of themselves? We should encourage people to take care of themselves whether it's a mental health concern or a physical health concern.
8.Learn The Difference Between Stress and Mental Health Disorders: Everyone struggles with life stressors and people struggling with mental health are more vulnerable to and overwhelmed by life stressors. Stress is a feeling not a mental health disorder. Rather, stress is a factor in everyone’s lives that worsens or activates mental health disorders. For someone struggling with anxiety, stress may increase risk of panic attacks, racing thoughts, difficulty sleeping, etc.
9.Choose Empowerment Over Shame: Let’s empower others struggling with mental health and not shame them. Rather than referring to someone with depression who is lacking motivation or energy as “lazy,” validate them! Let them know you understand how difficult it is for them to get out of bed and remind them how strong they are for getting out of bed and taking care of their responsibilities while feeling depressed. Or even ask if there is anything you can do to support them during this time.
10.Show Compassion: When in doubt, just show compassion to everyone around you! You never know what people are going through and it is easier to be kind than it is to be mean.