What Can We Do to End the Mental Health Stigma?

Yound black female sat on the stairs. Her arms and hands are in front of her face, she looks as if she is depressed or sad about something

Most of us are affected by mental health in one way or another. Whether or not we actually suffer from a mental health problem or know a family member or friend who is having mental issues, the majority of people have had to cope with some of the difficulties of mental health problems at one time or another in their life.

One of the most difficult things about mental health these days is the stigma associated with mental health problems. Many people suffering from problems – even commonplace issues like depression and anxiety – are uncomfortable seeking help for these problems because they are worried of what people might think or how they might behave.

Today we’re going to outline some of the best things that we can do as individuals to help overcome the stigma against people with mental health issues.

Understand the Problem

One of the main reasons that people are judgmental or jaded towards people suffering from mental health issues is because they don’t know what’s actually going on with the person suffering from the problem.

A classic example is someone telling their friend to simply “not be anxious,” or “be happier.” These sentences show that the person in question clearly has no understanding of how anxiety or depression work. Their words, though they might have been spoken with positive intent, often make things more difficult for the person with the problem.

Check Yourself

It’s important to constantly be aware of how you are acting and how you are behaving. Many people have a prejudice against mental health problems because someone they know may have suffered from similar problems. If a person was abused as a child by someone with dementia, they may develop a prejudice against others with dementia. It’s important to be aware of your attitudes and values.

Be Cautious

It’s easy to have your words misconstrued when talking to someone suffering from a mental health problem. Speak carefully and with compassion, and avoid ever getting angry.

Share Knowledge

Just because you know a thing or two about mental health problems doesn’t mean that everyone else does. If you hear people talking down on others for having mental health issues, then you should educate them regarding what you know. The easiest way to halt the stigma and prejudice is to make sure that more people are aware of these problems.

Give Support

People with mental health problems could often use support, even if they don’t want to admit it. Don’t be overbearing, but offer your support when it is necessary. Often, support is something as simple as sitting with a friend and listening to them. However, sometimes they may need more that the support you can offer them and that is when it is time to  connect with a mental health professional at thrivetalk.com

Be Optimistic

While it’s important to be aware of the downsides of mental health problems, it’s important not to dwell on them. Instead, focus on the positive aspects. If a person with a mental health problem makes a small accomplishment, focus on this. This will encourage them to continue making improvements and will prevent them from getting discouraged about the state of their mental health.

Be Inclusive

It’s important not to shun others for having mental health problems, even though they may require additional support or care. However, making sure that they feel included is important for helping to make sure that they can develop confidence to overcome their problems.

Have Fun

One of the best ways to help people with mental health problems is to have fun with them. Sometimes all it takes to bring a depressed person out of a funk is taking them on a fun expedition. Many mental health problems can be managed, at least partially, by including the person in your daily activities and treating them like an equal.

*collaborative post

Author Bio

Dr. Stacey Leibowitz-Levy is a highly-experienced psychologist with a Master’s Degree in Clinical Psychology and a PhD in the area of stress and its relation to goals and emotion. In addition to her private therapy practice, she’s currently an editor for E-counseling.com – a mental health resource with self-help guides on stress, anxiety, depression, and many other areas. During her spare time, Stacey enjoys spending time with her husband and children, being outdoors and doing yoga.

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