End the Stigma: Mental Health Awareness Month

May is Mental Health Awareness Month. A lot of stigma lies around mental illness and this can have severe and even deadly effects on people. A few fast facts about mental illness:

  • 1 in 5 of U.S. adults experienced mental illness
  • 5.6% of U.S. adults experienced serious mental illness
  • 6.7% of U.S. adults experienced a co-occuring substance use disorder and mental illness

What is Stigma in Mental Health?

Stigma is when people hold negative views about a person or group of people simply because of their mental health diagnosis. People are shamed and discriminated against based on their diagnosis, medications they take, going to therapy, hospitalizations, and more. This can lead to internalized stigma- the person beginning to believe that they are bad or an embarrassment. Stigma can lead to difficulty finding employment, receiving an education, finding housing, having relationships, and more.

Why is it harmful?

Stigma can result in people not seeking help. Only about half of the adults in the U.S. that need mental health treatment will receive it. The lack of support and treatment can lead to death by suicide and suffering. Stigma also can lead to people being excluded from families, friendships, bullied, and harassed.

What can you do?

Educate yourself. One of the biggest cause of stigma is not understanding mental illness. The National Alliance for Mental Illness website offers a lot of information on mental illness, symptoms, and treatments. It also provides information on how to support a loved one with mental illness. Educating yourself and other on mental illness helps to break down some of the bias and misinformation many of us have learned through society.

Change your language.

Using inappropriate labels and language about mental illness- or even about non-human things (i.e. the weather is “bipolar”) helps to continue the stigma and further create a divide among those with mental illness and those without. Changing your language is a simple but impactful way to help end the stigma and be more respectful to those who live with mental illness.

Be Kind.

The biggest takeaway is, be kind. No one chooses mental illness, just like no one chooses to have any other chronic illness. It is no different than any other physical illness. People no matter what their diagnosis may be deserve to be loved and cared for. Please be kind to your fellow humans and educate yourself this mental health month.

Reference: nami.org


2 thoughts on “End the Stigma: Mental Health Awareness Month”

Mark Weaver

A nation wide problem that needs to be addressed.

“Alone in No Longer Enough” | Peace Love and Nursing

[…] child (though not diagnosed), honestly as long as I can remember and depression since high school. The stigma behind mental illness makes it hard to admit this, but I am working to change that. I don’t want to be ashamed or […]

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