WHILE THE TOPIC of mental health is more widely discussed now than in the past, people experiencing loneliness, depression, anxiety, isolation, and hopelessness often feel judged by others. Unfortunately mental health challenges are as stigmatized now as ever and the consequence is that people who need support are reluctant to reach out for help. As the Chief Executive Officer of Orange County Rehab, part of my work is teaching people how to overcome misconceptions about mental health so that they can get the treatment they need and recover. If this resonates with your experience, here are 7 ways to fight mental health stigma.
1. Seek medical help
Most importantly, you should seek medical attention just as you would if you had a broken limb or were unwell, don’t allow the fear of being diagnosed with a mental health condition keep you or your loved ones from seeking treatment. Treatment is essential to alleviating symptoms that interfere with one’s professional and personal life, as well as delivering relief. Remember to be kind and compassionate to yourself and others while you or they seek therapy. Take courage and remember that you and your loved ones are worth it.
2. Don’t buy into the stigma
Your belief that you or the individual who is suffering from mental illness should be able to manage their condition on your own is a common misconception. As a result of these views, you may treat yourself or others with more harshness. It is important to seek care and support from those with mental illness to obtain a sense of self-worth, perspective and to overcome harmful judgement. As one realises, they aren’t the only one struggling in a certain area, they might begin to understand that they aren’t alone. Seeking assistance is a need.
3. Educate yourself and others
You can only be as powerful as the information you have. Learn as much as you can about your mental health condition, including its signs and symptoms, as well as its causes and remedies. The first step in obtaining the correct therapy for mental well-being is to be educated. Be willing to help people understand that mental health issues are medical conditions that can be treated in the same way that physical ailments are. To dispel some of the myths and misconceptions about mental health diagnoses, provide them with accurate facts.
People are more inclined to change their attitudes about mental health conditions when they have a better understanding of what they are. Remember not to expect folks to immediately grasp what you’re saying. Stigma is a long-term process. As you go through this process, be kind to yourself and others. It is also possible that family therapy might be beneficial, since it provides a neutral setting in which to address hurdles and roadblocks.
4. Choose your words carefully
A mental health diagnosis remains a part of our identity as long as we meet the criteria. Words have the potential to do harm and it is important to be mindful about the language we use to described mental health matters. Practice compassion and keep in mind that each of us has a unique personality that consists of many distinct features.
5. Join a support group
Don’t isolate yourself. No one can assist if you are secretive about your mental health condition. You may find a wide range of activities and services from local and national support organizations. People with mental health issues, family members, friends, and the places they live in may all benefit from these organizations’ efforts to remove stigma and empower those who suffer. A good place to start is the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) or the Department of Veterans Affairs (if applicable). See what programs are available in your area or online.
6. Empowerment over shame is the way to go
If you’re going through a rough patch, don’t let anybody tell you otherwise. Honor and own
your experience. While maintaining healthy boundaries, encourage individuals in need of assistance, hold space for their stories, and provide words of encouragement. Honesty is the best policy when it comes to dealing with those around you.
Remember that there is more to who you are than a mental health diagnosis. As you share your story and interact with others, remember the full spectrum of who you are and recognize your abilities, talents, and goals. If a loved one is suffering from mental health issues, be sure to do the same for them. How you engage with others may have a significant impact on people’s perceptions of you and your mental health condition. Treat yourself and others around you with compassion. Acceptance is a process that requires time, effort, and patience.
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