Starting Small in the Fight Against Mental Health Stigma
I've felt quite overwhelmed by the events happening worldwide and within my community. Between social media, the news, and life, the noise never lets up. Luckily, there are practices we can observe and measures we can take to quiet the noise. It all starts with small actions leading to a more overarching goal. This methodology applies to many aspects of our life, and fighting mental health stigma is no different.
If we look at stigma square in the nose for the ugly monster it is, it can be very overwhelming and even spur negative consequences to our mental health. But, if we take it apart and work from the feet to the head of the beast over time, we trick our brains into seeing a more reasonable and less scary fight. The question then becomes, how do we tackle stigma one limb at a time? How do we start small with tackling mental health stigma?
Dissecting the Big Picture of Mental Health Stigma into Small Actions
Who do storybook villains and horror film characters historically prefer? It's not the most intimidating or equally-matched foe; it's the fearful, the vulnerable opponent. Mental health stigma is nothing more than a monster feeding off a variation of those traits: ignorance and intolerance. It's the most dangerous kind of beast, but it's not unbeatable.
It all starts with breaking down the big picture and examining the smaller pieces of its composition. Ignorance is a huge part of mental health stigma. Let's start here--at the feet, if you will--and work our way up.
One way to combat ignorance is to boost awareness. Maybe the next step is brainstorming how to spread awareness of the complexities and nuances surrounding mental health that are not nearly talked about enough in some communities. Or maybe it's taking a more overarching approach and spreading mental health awareness in general because, let's be honest, that, too, is not talked about nearly enough. Start a local gazette discussing mental health, host an informative learning session, or even call up a friend to start a conversation. Our smaller actions can significantly impact the bigger picture if we allow them to do so.
And just like that, we've created specific goals with corresponding action steps to achieve them. Maybe it's not enough to tame the beast altogether, but I guarantee it is enough to knock it off balance.
Daily Habits to Help Fight Mental Health Stigma by Starting Small
There is no doubt this topic is dense. It can be exhausting to unpack stigma. After reading my pieces, I prefer to leave you all with actionable tips and, more importantly, a sentiment of hope. With that said, here are some deceivingly small actions we can all implement daily that have a real impact on the fight to end mental health stigma.
- Start a conversation. Often we shy away from discussing topics that may spark controversy. As a people-pleaser, I'm guilty of this myself. As difficult as it may be, starting these open discussions are a way to give knowledge to others and gain insight in return. Whether a friend or a stranger in the produce aisle, creating the space to talk about mental health is an excellent way to identify areas of ignorance and fill them with information and personability. As I mentioned, safe places like this don't exist in some communities. Be a pioneer, a trailblazer against stigma.
- Amplify the message. We live in the age of social media. As tricky as it can be to maneuver, social media excels at message amplification. Use it to spread the word. Maybe start with reposting meaningful mental health posts. (Tip: Keep it snappy and concise so people will be more inclined to engage.) Although seemingly minute, these practices can incite a ripple effect of knowledge and allyship in our communities, ultimately working to end stigma.
- Celebrate the small wins. If you take nothing else from this piece, I want it to be that you are already on the right path to fighting mental health stigma. You are optimizing your available resources for good. Even if it started as a personal journey (which is fantastic, by the way), you are pouring knowledge into yourself and your community simply by showing up. Celebrate that. Celebrate yourself. You are doing phenomenally.
Jack, J. (2022, October 27). Starting Small in the Fight Against Mental Health Stigma, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2023, February 6 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/survivingmentalhealthstigma/2022/10/starting-small-in-the-fight-against-mental-health-stigma