Dos for Fighting Mental Health Stigma
Fighting mental health stigma dos are important. When talking about mental health stigma and offering some advice for combating it, we often talk in terms of what not to do. Don’t shame someone. Don’t say these things. Don’t believe the lies that stigma tells us. Recently there was a comment left on one of HealthyPlace’s blogs pointing this fact out and asking for some dos in fighting mental health stigma instead. Here are some of those dos, but keep in mind there are tons of other things you can do to fight mental health stigma.
Ways of Fighting Mental Health Stigma
- Educate yourself: Both as someone with mental illness and as a supporter, this is a very important do for fighting mental health stigma. There is so much misinformation out there that when fighting stigma, we need to be sure the information we’re passing on to others is accurate. Educating yourself can also help you have a better understanding of what you’re dealing with, whether it’s mental illness in general or something specific like depression, schizoaffective disorder, or bipolar disorder. I understand that sifting through the Internet to find a reputable website is difficult, but starting with a website like HealthyPlace can lead you to even more websites that can help you ignore the myths and get to the facts.
- Share information from reputable sources: Once you’ve found the accurate information, share that information with the people you know and tell them where you got it. Perhaps it’s the academic in me, but citing your sources reinforces the accuracy of what you’re sharing and gives people the opportunity to visit that source to learn more if they so desire. It’s much easier to do with the copy-pasting of links on the Internet, but even in the non-Internet world, you can just tell someone verbally where you learned what you’re sharing.
- Read personal stories from sufferers: Statistics and diagnostic terminology are cold and have no human element. Adding a human element through someone sharing a personal experience helps us relate on an emotional level which will help you understand the information you’re dealing with. You can even share those personal stories you’ve read. Hopefully, those narratives will give you and those you share them with a new perspective on what mental illness is and help break down any stigma you might still be dealing with.
- Be polite: Sometimes those of us who see past stigma see what we understand to be self-evident. Thoughts like, “How can someone be so stupid as to believe that crap?” might cross our minds and sometimes we conduct ourselves and act based on those thoughts. In particular, in the online sphere, it’s easy to go off on someone. Being level-headed and courteous is one of the most effective ways I’ve found to fight mental illness stigma in those situations. People are more receptive when they don’t feel like they need to go on the defensive.
- Listen: There are two parts to this one. Listen to each other when having a conversation about mental illness and stigma. In that way, we avoid a back-and-forth of feeling like no one is hearing what the other is saying. You should also listen if someone is saying what you’re doing to fight stigma is ineffective. The effort and trying is much appreciated, but if something isn’t working, you need to tweak your modus operandi to improve those efforts (Effective Listening Skills).
Two Basic Tips to Fight Mental Health Stigma
Barton, L. (2016, December 11). Dos for Fighting Mental Health Stigma, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2021, May 9 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/survivingmentalhealthstigma/2016/12/dos-for-fighting-mental-health-stigma
Author: Laura A. Barton
Laura, I wanted to thank you for taking the time to address a topic that truly affects a large amount of our communities. You talked about having people share the information they have with others. I think that this is so important when it comes to ending the stigma about mental health. Not only do we need to educate ourselves, but we need to pass the knowledge along to others. That is what I want to do today. I want to share with you, and all that view this post, the Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act of 2016. I know policy can be intimidating, but it is a powerful way to create change in our communities. This act will create more services and better access to services that already exist for those who are experiencing a mental health crisis. This act will provide more inpatient beds to suicidal children, it will educate our first responders on how to identify and approach mental health situations appropriately, and so much more. I challenge you all to join me in advocating for a change that will make our communities more healthy and more happy.
The problem with mental health stigma is that it affects the sufferer, not so much as to the listener. People often think you are having a pity party. I have learned to keep GAD and depression pretty much to myself. Yes reading about what you have does help. It helps you function. I have found that getting out into the public and functioning along with them have helped me the most. Exercise helps. The only person that really understands GAD are the sufferers.