The month of May is Mental Health Awareness Month. In addition to spreading awareness and fighting stigma, we also wanted to provide some ways to work on your mental wellness throughout not only this month but every month. Here are some ideas from Mental Health America:
May is Mental Health Awareness Month.One way that we would like to participate is to help reduce the stigma associated with mental health.
In terms of mental health, David Susman PhD refers to stigma as negative beliefs, descriptions, attitudes, behavior or language. To go a step further, a stigma can be unfair, discriminatory or disrespectful in how we talk, feel, behave, or think towards someone coping with mental health issues. To help, we have compiled a list of ways that you can reduce mental health stigma.
- Educate Yourself
Accurately inform yourself about mental illnesses. Check out MentalHealth.gov for some mental health facts and myths.
- Educate Others
Once you have educated yourself, you can pass on your new accurate knowledge to others. Additionally, you can educate others, by presenting a positive attitude about those with mental health issues. You can do this by challenging any stereotypes or myths that others you know may have about those suffering from mental illness.
- Don’t Label Those with Mental Illness
Keep in mind that people are still people and not their diagnosis. For example, do not refer to someone as “she’s schizophrenic,” but rather state they have a mental illness. Remember to be respectful.
- Don’t be Afraid of Someone with a Mental Health Issue
Don’t fall to stereotypes. While it may seem that someone with a mental illness may display unusual behavior, keep in mind that it does not mean they are dangerous. That is an inaccurate stereotype that has been perpetuated by popular culture.
- Choose What You Say Carefully
How you say something can impact the way others speak and think. Never use derogatory or hurtful language about mental illness or to someone with a mental illness. Be sure not to use mental illnesses as an adjective. For example, don’t say, “I’m so OCD.” Speaking this way only furthers misconceptions and stigmas about mental illnesses.
- Be Sensitive and Focus on the Positive
Be supportive and reassuring to someone with mental illness especially when you know they are having a tough time. Additionally, focus on the person’s positive aspects. Essentially, treat others how you would like to be treated.
You can help fight stigma by spreading awareness about mental illness and helping to eliminate the many myths that exist about mental illness. Commit to changing the attitudes around you and we can help to get rid of the stigma once and for all.
Doorways LLC. is a faith-based counseling organization in Phoenix, Arizona, that provides comprehensive outpatient treatment focused exclusively on 13-25-year olds and their families specializing in treatment for eating disorders, mood disorders, anxiety/OCD, substance abuse, depression, ADD/ADHD, self-harm, suicide prevention, and family counseling.
May is Mental Health Month, which is a time of support dedicated to anyone whose life is impacted by mental illness. May is also designated as a time for increasing awareness about teen mental health, and encouraging anyone who has been struggling with mental health issues to seek help in a safe, supported environment.
An important component of supporting teens seeking help for mental health illnesses or disorders is to help challenge and eliminate the stigmas surrounding mental health. Removing misinformed preconceptions or stigmas regarding mental illness will help foster the safe, inclusive environment that those with mental health issues need to seek help confidently.
What is a Mental Illness Stigma?
According to the Mental Health Commission of Australia, a mental illness stigma is created when a person is labeled solely by their mental health condition, and faces feelings of shame and disgrace through discrimination brought about due to their condition.
Stigmas associated to mental illness, particularly in teens, can make it even more difficult for adolescents to come forward because they feel ostracized, guilty, or ashamed. Stigmas perpetuate prejudice and can also bring about or intensify other negative feelings for teens and their families such as:
- Unwillingness to seek help
- Spread of misinformation
5 Ways to Challenge and Eliminate Mental Illness Stigmas
Eliminating the stigmas associated with mental illness in teens is entirely possible through education, support, and open conversations on this difficult topic.
Here are 5 things that you can do this month, and beyond, to help support those you know who suffer from mental illness and work toward eliminating the negative and prejudicial stigmas that exist about mental health and wellness.
- Learn, understand, and share correct and positive information about mental illness.
To best reduce the stigmas surrounding teen mental illness, it is important that you learn all the facts about mental disorders, and only share correct and positive information with your family, friends, and others.
- Embrace and acknowledge those who have experienced mental health issues.
If you, your teen, or another loved one in your life has personal experience with mental health issues, then it is vital that you encourage open, honest conversations about their mental health and truly listen. It is also important to remember that a teen with a mental illness is not solely defined by their condition, so acknowledging their mental health as just part of who they are can be very beneficial to making them feel accepted and respected.
- Replace labels and judgement with inclusion and respect, for those suffering from mental illness.
Placing judgement or labels on teens with mental health problems can cause them to feel isolated, alienated, and alone. However, if you approach mental health with support, inclusion, and respect, then those already struggling will feel more confident in speaking up for themselves and seeking out support and help.
- Speak up when you hear others spreading misinformation about mental illness.
Stigmas exist so predominantly because there is a lot of misinformation and incorrect perceptions about mental illness in circulation among people. If you hear others speaking negatively about mental health or spreading incorrect information about those who live with mental illness, it is important that you speak up and defend yourself or your loved ones with accurate facts. Educating others about the truths of mental illness can help diminish the negative impact stigmas have on society.
- Talk openly and honestly about the reality of experiencing and living with mental illnesses.
Due largely to stigmas associated to mental illness, many teens will feel ashamed to speak about their mental health and seek out help if they need it. You can encourage your teen to speak openly and honestly, and ensure them that their feelings will not be met with any judgement or blame. It is also important for teens who live with mental illness to share real life experiences about their struggles and how they live in spite of their mental illness.
There is a growing social media community dedicated to highlighting the truths about mental illness and supporting those who need or are getting help. You can share your experiences, or encourage your teen to do the same by using the hashtag #mentalillnessfeelslike.
May is Mental Health Awareness Month, which is a designated time to focus on the important topic of mental and emotional health and well-being for ourselves and our families. Mental health awareness is becoming increasingly important in teenagers, who are under more pressures than ever in a fast-paced, competitive, and success-driven society.
In fact, according to the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill, 20 percent of teens ages 13 to 18 have mental illness, which has quadrupled since 1950.
While important attention and focus are placed on mental health this month, parenting is a lifelong learning and growing process for both parents and teens.
Here are five tips to help you raise mentally and emotionally strong teenagers every month of every year:
Teach Positive, Specific Decision-Making Skills
When your teen misbehaves, it is a great opportunity for you to begin building the foundation of the decision-making skills they’ll use into and throughout adulthood. Reframe discipline into teaching moments and demonstrate to your child how they can exercise impulse control, self-discipline, and problem solving skills when they’re faced with challenges and temptations in the future.
Transform Mistakes into Learning Opportunities
As a parent, it is likely very difficult for you to willingly let your child make mistakes in their lives, but it’s a vital part of their learning how to deal with difficult emotions associated with failure. By accepting mistakes, and teaching your child they are a part of the learning journey, they will feel more confident and empowered to make decisions and try new things.
Focus on Morals, Character, and Gratitude
When your teen is acting out or struggling with difficult situations that arise, make it a consistent practice to always bring your guidance back to a core of good morals, character, and values. This type of leadership will give your child a sense of where they come from and what they believe in. Having this foundation enables them to rely on it as they make their own decisions in the future.
Additionally, encouraging your teen to refocus themselves using gratitude will help them learn to be thankful and think optimistically even in difficult times.
Limit Arrogance, and Promote High Self-Esteem
In her book The Price of Privilege, psychologist, educator, and author Madeline Levine explores the pressures of contemporary society on teenagers, and asserts that intelligent children of affluent families are the most at risk to suffer from depression, anxiety, and other mental health issues.
This emerging trend is attributed to an imbalance between arrogance and self-esteem in many teens. Namely, teenagers can be prone to having a higher amount of arrogance while actually suffering from lower self-esteem. Demonstrating and explaining the differences between these feelings, and helping your teen understand that they can feel good about themselves and be proud of their accomplishments without being cocky or arrogant will help them develop mental and emotional strength.
Ensure Your Own Mental Strength, and Model It
In order to be there and provide your teen with strong support, love and guidance, you need to ensure that you are taking care of your own mental health. Children will pattern their behavior after their parents and other adults they look up to and respect, so be a great role model and live out the lessons you’re imparting onto them in your own life.
If your teenager is consistently struggling with mental or emotional strength or health, and you’re not seeing any changes, improvement, or results from your efforts to love and guide them through their difficulties, then it may benefit your child to speak with a therapist or mental health professional.