When talking about the issues of mental health in our community, the topic of “stigma” often follows. Why does the mental health stigma exist? Why is it so damaging to those seeking treatment? How can we break the stigma? These questions are not unique to our area, rather part of a global conversation taking place.
The solution is complex, but it starts with you. Here’s how you can help break the stigma:
- Educate yourself and those around you.
Whether it’s seeking out statistics or reading personal stories to better understand one’s experience, it’s important to always keep learning—even if you think you know it well. The more we know, the more we can combat stereotypes and advocate for better mental health. With heaps of online resources, like this one here, there’s no shortage of information to find.
- Don’t be afraid of open dialogue.
The reality is that 1 in 5 U.S. adults experience mental health issues. Statistically speaking, one of those is your good friend, coworker down the hall, or neighbor up the street. If we don’t talk openly about our mental health, we may never realize their struggle and they may feel isolated in their experience. However, when we engage in open dialogue, shame is exchanged for shared experience and mental health stops feeling taboo.
- Seek treatment.
If you’re 1 of the 5 U.S. adults experiencing mental health issues, we encourage you to take the brave step towards treatment. Just as you’d get your wound bandaged or stomach discomfort examined, you can receive shame-free help to improve your mental health. Your decision could even inspire others to take a similar step.
May is Mental Health Awareness Month. Join the movement with these three stigma-breaking steps, or check out Mental Health America’s Tools 2 Thrive toolkit here: www.mhanational.org/mental-health-month