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The End of Mental Health Stigma

July 9, 2013 Chris Curry

Since I started writing this blog over a year ago, I’ve noticed that I get more and more questions regarding my plans on how to end mental health stigma in my life (What Is Stigma?). Of course, I am honored to receive these questions, but I do not by any means consider myself an expert on the matter. But, here it goes anyway. You can be the judge as to whether I am an expert or not.

It Doesn't Take Much to End Mental Health Stigma

I believe that what I am about to do is pretty close to what you need to do in order to bring about an end to mental health stigma. But don’t get overwhelmed. You don’t have to start a blog. You don’t have to have a column in your local newspaper. You don’t need a spot on the local news. What you need to do, is start treating people with a mental illness the exact same way that you would treat everyone else on Earth.

Get Comfortable with Mental Health Vocabulary

Stop being visibly affected when someone says the words depression or schizophrenia. You need to be as comfortable with those two words as you are with the words influenza or cancer.

You need to be able to tell your friends that your son hasn’t worked in the past year due to his battle with schizophrenia -- not his battle with fibromyalgia.

Stop Pretending - Stop Stigmatizing Yourself

Stop sugar-coating your life. Stop pretending that you don’t suffer from at least a mild form of anxiety, or have never experienced depression.

Stop viewing it as ‘us versus them.’

People with a mental illness are all around you. They are you. They are your friends. They are your family. Stop treating them any different than you would anyone else. Because they are anyone else. They are, everyone else.

Next time you want to tell a friend that you couldn’t make a coffee date because of a cold, instead tell them that you couldn’t get out of bed because you were depressed.

Do Not Allow Mental Health Myths to Spread

The next time you hear someone say something like ‘mentally ill people are violent’ do not simply stand back and allow them to continue spreading this view. State, loud and clear, that people with a mental illness are no more violent than anyone else. In fact, people with a mental illness are much more likely to be violent towards themselves than other people.

Don’t be complacent. When you hear someone making a disparaging remark about someone with a mental illness, stand up and make your voice heard. As I’ve said in prior posts, stigma spreads through misinformation. Therefore, do your research, know your facts and help stop this spread of misinformation that is at the heart of all stigma.

Chris Curry's website is here. Chris is also on Google+, Twitter and Facebook.

APA Reference
Curry, C. (2013, July 9). The End of Mental Health Stigma, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2020, November 29 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/survivingmentalhealthstigma/2013/07/the-end-of-stigma



Author: Chris Curry

Dr Musli Ferati
July, 21 2013 at 2:26 am

By all means, the overcoming of mental health stigma exhibits fundamental step in current psychiatric treatment of mental disorders. Therefore, it should regret your genuine undertaking on surviving mental health stigma blog. Meanwhile, stigma as stubborn socio-cultural phenomenon seeks substantial engagement of whole community factors on successful dealing with mental health issue. In the first place are experts of mental health service, respectively psychiatrist as carrier of mental health care system. The main task of psychiatrist is their acceptable explanation of mental pathology to their patient and their close relatives, as well. There are many facts and argument, which one indicates that mental disorders have got their beginning on our brain as central organ of our mind. As it is well-known, mental disorders are chronic diseases, which ones require long-term psychiatric treatment. On the other side, current psychiatric management incorporate three-dimensional therapeutic approaching; psychopharmacologic and psycho-social ones. These and many others characteristic of mental illnesses, should be elucidate by understand way, from psychiatrist to their numerous client, which mental functional difficulties.

Tanya J Peterson
July, 14 2013 at 11:06 am

The three very real, very accurate comments left here thus far indicate the strong hold stigma has over everyone. As those of us experiencing mental illness and those who have loved ones experiencing mental illness know all to well, the stigma can be devastating. Anything so deeply rooted can't quickly be eradicated, but I'd like to believe that it can indeed be significantly reduced so that it loses its power. (Because of human nature, there will always be prejudice and judgement, but the prejudice and judgement don't have to have supreme power.) I think the suggestions you make here, Chris, are wise and have great potential. They won't always be easy to implement, but they can all be done, boldly or quietly, fully or partially, by everyone. With gentle persistence, they will affect positive change.

Jonny Matthew
July, 13 2013 at 4:05 pm

I'm a professional working with troubled children. (http://JonnyMatthew.com) I also suffer from depression. The best policy I've found is to be straight with people. I tend to be very honest and open. I don't apologise. I don't make a big deal of it either. It doesn't define me. If/when the subject comes up, I might say something like: "I get depressed sometimes and I currently take anti-depressants. I don't know what the big deal is. If I had a broken leg and walked using crutches, no-one would blink. So why the big fuss about taking Citalopram for depression?"... Or whatever. If WE are not worried about it, we can more successfully de-mystify it for others. I'f we're fearful and embarrassed, we should hardly be surprised if others adopt that position... This is not without its challenges, but I reckon it's better confronted head on. Works for me. Just a thought...

Jet Fontaine
July, 11 2013 at 7:04 pm

I find this very difficult too especially at work. There have been places I've worked where the second they find out that I'm bipolar they treat me differently. One place all of the managers kept asking me if I was ok as if I was going to have some sort of mental break down because of my illness. After that I've found that I don't want my coworkers to know now, but recently I've started to tell some of them because I want people to see that yes, I have a mental illness and guess what, I'm functioning.

Adrienne
July, 11 2013 at 6:52 pm

There will always be stigma surrounding mental illness and mental health. Whether it be your family, friends or church family. Someone will always treat you differently and shun you and tell you that they can do nothing to help you and all because they don't want to learn how to help and don't want your input.

emily
July, 9 2013 at 8:02 pm

This is a lot easier said than done. I want my co-workers to trust me. I don't want to scare off a new boyfriend or friend. My family still doesn't understand mental illness after all these years, and I get tired of trying to explain it (especially to those members who are in denial that they also have difficulties). So I do sugar coat things, but sometimes I let things out.

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