How to Stand Up to Stigma Concerning Mental Health
Sometimes when we think about how to stand up to stigma about mental health, I think we get too caught up in the idea of an outward battle against mental health stigma. We might forget that we can arm and armor ourselves against it. As I've written before, mental health stigma may never go away, so it's about equipping and molding ourselves to better be able to withstand it. It doesn't just happen with a snap of our fingers though; it's a process to take on and continuously work at. If you're needing encouragement or guidance to stand up to stigma, here are some things you can try.
Five Ways to Stand Up to Stigma About Mental Health
- Stand up to stigma in baby steps: This one can apply to any of the points that follow. Sometimes I feel like people look at me as if I one day took a giant leap from feeling afraid and stigmatized to staring stigma in the face and not backing down (which isn't quite true because I do still sometimes back down). That's not how it happened. My journey has been a myriad of baby steps, where it was dropping hints about having mental illness on my social media before actually saying it or slowing pulling back the layers of clothing that hid my scarred skin. It's okay to take it slow with this process. Going at our own pace safeguards us from being overwhelmed.
- Know the facts: Knowledge is power when you stand up to stigma. Although it might not seem like there is much known about mental illnesses, and there are some illnesses for which there is less known than others, the bottom line is there are truths out there that pierce through the myths making up mental health stigma. That can work both on others and on us too. The more I learned, the more confident I felt that my illnesses are illnesses, not character flaws.
- Have support: Plain and simple, having people you can lean on makes a difference because it alleviates that sense of going it alone. (Why You Need a Wide Mental Health Support Network)
- Speak out: For me, this also encompasses participating in events in my efforts to stand up to stigma. It could be a fundraiser for local charities or online social media blitzes — whatever you choose, showing where you stand on these issues not only chips away at stigma overall, it connects you with like-minded folks who could become great teams members or part of your support system.
- Repeat: This process is not a one-time mastery. Achieving any of these things once does not guarantee immunity to the stigma that looms around mental illness. I'm constantly rehashing these things, deciding moment to moment what I can handle and how I want to move forward. This factors into self-care, which is hugely important. Burning ourselves out doesn't do us any good, so we have to be mindful of how much we can take.
Take these, throw out the ones you don't like, add ones you do, and shake them up — whatever you do, make sure you find something that works for you. Doing so might not make stigma go away completely, but it can take away some of its power. When we stand up to stigma we achieve greater peace of mind.
Barton, L. (2018, June 22). How to Stand Up to Stigma Concerning Mental Health, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2019, August 24 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/survivingmentalhealthstigma/2018/6/how-to-stand-up-to-stigma-concerning-mental-health