Happier Way Original –
Too often, when something is not fully understood a stigma is attached to it. These stigmas, or “marks of shame or discredit,” according to Merriam-Webster, are frequently unwarranted and actually cause even greater harm to the issue at hand. The mental illness stigma has long been a problem in the United States and across the world. Fortunately, the National Alliance on Mental Illness formed Mental Health Awareness Month back in 1949, an annual event that takes place in May to “fight stigma, provide support, educate the public and advocate for policies that support people with mental illness and their families.”
During Mental Health Awareness Month in May and throughout the rest of the year, you can do your part to help break the mental illness stigma. Here are a few easy steps you can take.
1. Be Open About Mental Illness
Stigmas are bred through ignorance. The less people understand mental illness, the harder it will be for them to fight the stigma that comes with it. Instead, speak openly about mental illness. Try to help those who are dealing with it, and try to educate those who do not understand it. This will be to the benefit of all.
2. Learn to Recognize Mental Illness Stigma
Certain language can inflame mental illness stigma. The same can be true about how mental illness is portrayed on TV and in other media. Do your part to recognize when misleading, untruthful, or insensitive rhetoric is being used against mental illness and combat this language with honest, helpful conversations.
3. Be Compassionate for Those with Mental Illness
The chances are good that if you know someone who is dealing with a mental illness, they have been stigmatized at some point in their life. The best thing you can do to support them is to show empathy and let them know that you are here to help.
Mental Health Awareness Month is the perfect time to get started breaking the mental illness stigma.