How to Beat the Stigma Surrounding Mental Health
Hey guys! I want to talk to you about a pretty important topic - mental health stigma. Tomorrow is Bell Lets Talk Day so I figured it was a perfect time to do a post on it. On Bell Let’s Talk Day, Bell will donate more towards mental health initiatives in Canada by contributing 5¢ for every applicable text, call, tweet, social media video view and use of our Facebook frame or Snapchat filter. This topic is so important because it's the stigma that keeps so many people stuck in a bad place. Addressing the stigma is the first step to improving mental health. I hid my struggles for so many years in fear that people in my life would think I’m “crazy”. Once I opened up about it I was able to start talk about it which helped me heal.
How the mental health stigma impacts struggling people
I think Mike Veny's book, Transforming Stigma: How to Become a Mental Wellness Superhero, does a great job of explaining the impact that the stigma has on people. Here is the way he describes the cycle that stigma creates:
- I feel ashamed because of my issues. I have had them my whole entire life and it's a burden.
- I don't talk about it. I don't want anyone to know about it.
- I isolate myself, self-harm, display suicidal tendencies, and my condition gets worse.
- As it gets worse, I feel even more shame and the cycle repeats itself.
And, the worst part is, I truly don't believe people in society even realize that they are contributing to the problem. There just isn't enough information out there about the mental health stigma.
So, how do we fix the mental health stigma?
There are a few ways that we can fix this problem and improve the lives of tons of people around the world:
- Don't give into the stigma - If you are dealing with anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, or any other mental health diagnosis, don't give into shame. Don't allow the perceptions of others stop you from getting the help you need.
- Educate yourself - Read up on mental health, what it actually looks like, and how to help those that are struggling. The more knowledge we have the better decisions we’re able to make when dealing with people struggling with mental health challenges. I’ve had a few of my best friends read up on BP2 and anxiety so that they could try to understand it, and to know the signs of when I’m starting to go into the dark hole.
- Let people know when they're being stigmatizing - I saw a great idea online from a woman that contacts broadcasting companies when she sees this type of behaviour on television. If you see mental health painted in an inaccurate way, don't be afraid to contact newspapers, magazines, and news stations to clear it up.
- Talk, talk, talk - We need to talk about mental health. A lot! If you've struggled before, share your story with others. If you haven't, ask questions. We need mental health to get into the conversation. It shouldn’t be a taboo topic.
We can truly transform our lives and the lives of others by putting an end to this stigma!