Stigma is when a person views you negatively because you have a distinguishing characteristic or personal trait considered a disadvantage in society – a negative stereotype.
Even in this fast-paced and developed era, people with mental illness often face degrading and negative attitudes in different parts of the world. This impacts them so badly that they start to hide their feelings.
The main motive of this post is to examine 7 strategies to overcome stigma and what initiatives we can take both as a community and as a society to spread mental health awareness.
Harmful Effect of Stigma
Stigma leads to discrimination that may be direct or sometimes in the form of negative remarks and comments. Some harmful effects of stigma include:
- Reluctance to seek medical help.
- The belief that you cannot improve your situation nor you’ll be able to succeed in certain challenges.
- Lack of understanding from friends, co-workers, and family members.
- Health insurance doesn’t adequately cover your treatment expenses.
- Fewer work opportunities in schools and social activities or trouble finding one.
- Face bullying or harassment.
Stigma and Mental Health Awareness: 7 Strategies to Fight It
As individuals, we must strive to create a space to discuss mental health as we discuss physical health issues. They’re intertwined, and each impacts the other.
Here are the strategies that can be implemented to overcome mental health stigma:
Consider offering support and understanding if you know someone suffering from mental illness. Most importantly, listen to their experiences and validate their concerns.
Encourage them to seek help and guide them in finding useful resources. Make them realize that they are not alone in such a situation and you’re ready to help them to get through this difficult journey.
Simply showing compassion and kindness can help them to face their issues and become stronger.
Fighting against the stigma can also be done effectively by spreading awareness and educating people with the correct and useful information.
Attend seminars, webinars, and informational events to learn about the mental condition state and how to treat it and spread the word.
Share the information with the people around you to educate them and increase empathy and understanding—correct myths and misconceptions so they know the truth. Promoting mental health awareness through educating yourself and others is a great way to overcome stigma.
Advocacy is an impactful tool to overcome the mental health stigma. Contact the officials around you and discuss your concerns to support mental health policies and collect funding for them.
Take part in advocacy campaigns and events to raise awareness and bring change. Join various mental health organizations to fight against stigma. With these small steps, we can help to create a better environment.
Media is one of the most powerful tools and can effectively spread mental health awareness and fight stigma. Unfortunately, the media often misrepresent mental health; therefore, we must challenge such a typical mindset.
Challenge such mindset by speaking to the media houses and commenting on various platforms to ensure the media get the message.
With the correct depiction of mental health in the media, we can promote a more accurate picture and spread compassionate information about mental health.
Words have a long-lasting impact on any individual. That’s why whenever talking to an individual suffering from mental issues, use kind and respectful language.
Avoid using labels or derogatory terms that can be stigmatizing or hurtful. Instead, use first-person language to emphasize a person rather than their mental condition.
For instance, saying “a bipolar person” instead of “someone with bipolar disorder” is more respectful. Using a respectful tone and language helps to reduce the stigma and promote a compassionate environment.
Have the courage to address the issues with the stigma and discuss them openly in public. Challenge negative attitudes and try to correct them whenever you notice them.
Do not support negative comments and stereotypes, and, most importantly, stop the ones making jokes about a mental condition. However, speaking against stigma reduction is difficult; it’s crucial to speak up to support those suffering.
While taking care of others’ mental health conditions and spreading awareness, your mental health must not be neglected.
Prioritize your mental health over anything. Schedule activities and take a break from a hectic work routine to keep your mind at peace.
Taking control of your mental health helps you stay healthy, sets an example for society, and helps others fight mental health issues and overcome stigma.
Always remember mental health is vital for your well-being and overall health. We can eliminate stigma and promote mental health by working together on the abovementioned points.
Keep in mind strength is speaking up and seeking help. Let us break the silence and stand against mental health issues – unafraid and united.