5 Ways To Fight Mental Health Stigma- Most people are living with mental illness have, at some point, been blamed for their condition. They’ve been called by their names. Their symptoms have been referred to as “a dark phase” or something they can control “if they only tried.” They have been illegally discriminated against, with no justice. This is the unwieldy power that stigma holds.
Stigma causes people to feel ashamed for something that is out of their control. Stigma prevents people from seeking the help they need. For a group of people who already carry such a heavy burden, stigma is such an unacceptable addition to their pain. And while stigma has reduced in recent years, the pace of progress has not been quick enough.
All of us in the mental health community/society need to raise our voices against the stigma. Every day, in every possible way, we need to stand up to stigma. If you’re not sure how, here are interesting 5 ways our Facebook community responded to the question: “How do you fight stigma?”
1- Talk Openly About Mental Health
“I fight stigma by talking about what it is like to have bipolar disorder and PTSD on Facebook. Even if this helps just one person, it is worth it for me.” – Angela Christie Roach Taylor
2- Educate Yourself And Others
“I take every opportunity to educate people and also likes to do share my personal story and struggles with mental illness. It doesn’t matter where I am now, if I over-hear a conversation or a rude remark being made about mental illness, or anything regarding a similar subject, I always try to use that as a learning opportunity and gently intervene and kindly express how this makes me feel, and how we need to stop this because it only adds to the stigma.” – Sara Bean(Thailand)
3- Be Conscious Of Language
“I fight stigma by reminding people that their language matters. It is so easy to refrain from using mental health conditions as adjectives and in my experience, most people are willing to replace their usage of it with something else if I explain why their language is problematic.” – Helmi Henkin
4- Encourage Equality Between Physical And Mental Illness
“I find that when people understand the true facts of what a mental illness is, being a disease, they think twice about making comments. I also remind them that they wouldn’t make fun of someone with diabetes, heart disease or cancer.” – Megan Dotson
5- Choose Stigma Empowerment Over Shame
“I fight against stigma by choosing to live an empowered life. To me, that means owning my life and my story and refusing to allow others to dictate how I view myself or how I feel about myself.” – Manish Gupta(Delhi)
This is what our collective voice sounds like. It sounds like strength, bravery, and persistence—the qualities we need to face mental illness and to fight stigma. It doesn’t matter how you contribute to the mental health movement, but you can make a difference simply by knowing that mental illness is not anyone’s fault, no matter what societal stigma says. You can make a difference by being and living StigmaFree.