Simple Ways to Reduce Mental Health Stigma

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.

  1. Educate Yourself

Accurately inform yourself about mental illnesses. Check out MentalHealth.gov for some mental health facts and myths.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

Mental Health Danger Signs in Teens

Doorways Arizona Blog: Mental Health Danger Signs in TeensAs teens are developing, they go through a series of changes physically, emotionally, socially and intellectually. For a lot of teens, these changes can be overwhelming. According to Healthy Children, this is a critical time and these pressures can lead to mental health issues presenting themselves. As a parent, it is important for you to know what to look for so that you can determine if your teen is just experiencing “normal” teenage behavior or is beginning to suffer from mental health issues.

During this time, observe your teen’s behavior and determine what is normal and what is not. Here are some “red flags” to look for:

  • Personality changes that are out of character.
  • Loss of self-esteem.
  • Loss of interest in favorite activities.
  • Excessive sleeping or not sleeping.
  • Not wanting to go to school.
  • Sudden decline in grades.
  • Loss or gain of appetite and sudden weight loss or weight gain.
  • Secretive behavior
  • Not hanging out with old friends, dropping old friends and getting new friends very suddenly.
  • Anxiety, anger, or sadness.

If your teen is exhibiting some of these symptoms, here are a few suggestions to help them:

  1. Take your teen shopping or to the movies or out to eat, whatever they like, and just spend time with them, being open to conversation.  Believe it or not, our teens need us just as much in their teen years as they did when they were little.
  2. You could tell your teen that you’ve noticed they aren’t acting like themselves lately and try to get them to talk to you. Sometimes they will, sometimes they won’t. Don’t let their rejection get you down.
  3. Listen without judging. This can be the hardest thing for a parent to do. But we all need a safe place to vent our feelings and frustrations.
  4. Seek professional help. If you’re not able to break through to your teen, seek the help of an experienced therapist who specializes in working with teens.  At Doorways, we always offer a free consultation to parents who are looking for help for their troubled teen.

Being the parent of a teen with normal teen challenges is not easy. But if you’re experiencing extreme challenges with your teen it can be heart breaking.  It doesn’t mean you’re a failure as a parent. The fact that you are researching how to help your teen shows that you are a caring and loving parent.

At Doorways, our compassionate counselors treat teens with respect and caring. We listen without judging and we provide confidential help for teens and families going through crisis.

If something is going on, take that first step and give us a call today.  We have helped hundreds of families get their hope back and we would be honored to help you!