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.