Should I Be Fighting Mental Health Stigma?
NAMI, the National Alliance on Mental Illness created a list of nine suggestions for fighting mental health stigma. Here we will discuss 7 of the ways you can fight mental health stigma every day. There are no requirements or certifications for being an advocate to someone with a mental health issue. Mental illness does not make someone different or less deserving of a quality life, fair treatment, or respect. Stand up for your loved one today, and people all over the world living through mental illness.
- Start an open dialogue about mental health. People are often afraid or ashamed of speaking on what they don’t know, or what they think someone might criticize them for. Be the person who opens up the conversation to talk about mental health. Invite people to share their own preconceptions, judgments, and assumptions as well as what they think it means to have a mental illness.
- Learn more about mental health. Share the knowledge. The best way to combat preconceived notions is to meet fiction with fact. Take time to learn more about mental health or a specific mental illness. When having an open conversation about mental health, introduce your knowledge and ask people to do the same.
- Practice mindfulness in how you speak about mental health. Negative mental health stigma is spread through mindless jokes, inconsiderate references, and harmful appropriation. Mental illness is neither a joke, a punchline, nor an incrimination. Mental illness can be debilitating and disabling. Changing the way you speak about mental health changes the way people hear about mental health.
- Advocate equality for those who aren’t treated fairly. According to laws like the Americans with Disabilities Act, people with mental illness cannot be fired because of it. Whether in a place of employment or in a local shop, people discriminate against mental illness and treat others poorly. Stand up for those who might not be able to stand up for themselves and demand fair treatment.
- Show others how to have empathy and compassion. Understand that everyone suffers in some way. Mental illness can be challenging and painful to endure. Find sympathy from your own experience to find commonalities with theirs.
- Call out the media for how they portray mental health. “Crazy” is a common character description in credit rolls for films or shows. Clinical insanity is a severe mental illness, however, only insanity is insanity- those who are mentally ill are not crazy.
- Remember that mental health doesn’t define the person. Because someone has depression does not mean they are completely identified by their depression. Mental illness is one part of a person, but not the person as a whole. Take time to get to know people as they are and for who they are, not their diagnosis.
Avalon By The Sea encourages everyone to advocate for fair treatment of mental illness. We proudly serve the mental health community as one of California’s only treatment centers certified to treat psychiatric conditions as a primary diagnosis. For a confidential assessment and more information on our mental health treatment programs, call 1 (855) 638-7321.