How to help break the stigma of mental illness

May is Mental Health Awareness Month, but what do we mean by mental health?

As discussed in an article by the The Mayo Clinic*, “Mental health is the overall wellness of how you think, regulate your feelings and behave.”

At times, physical illness, environmental stresses or a change in one’s personal situation can cause a disruption or interference with individual thought process and mental functioning. This is what can cause our mental wellness to be compromised.  Being aware of changes and recognizing signs that someone might be experiencing challenges with their mental health is helpful for all involved.  Here are a few things to keep in mind:

Openly talk about mental health – Break the stigma about talking about mental health issues.   Common and treatable, more people suffer from mental health then you may be aware.

Educate yourself – There are plenty of resources accessible to learn more about specific types of mental illnesses, treatments and support.  Talk to your health professional, visit the library or online resources.

Be aware of the language you use – The language we choose to use matters. Do not use insulting terms (ex. “Crazy” or “Psycho”). Identify the person first, not the illness. (ex. My brother who struggles with OCD vs. My OCD brother).

Show compassion towards those with mental illness – Be supportive to people with mental health conditions. Check in frequently, provide support and encouragement.

Speak up against the stigma - Be positive.  Don’t sit by idly as others pass judgements or speak in a derogatory manner.

 

Great resources to educate yourself about mental health:

www.nami.org

www.thedepressionproject.com

www.mayoclinic.org

www.mentalhealthmn.org

www.mn.gov

www.nimh.nih.gov

Sources: https://www.centracare.com/blog/2019/may/break-the-stigma/
*https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/adult-health/in-depth/mental-health/art-20044098