Even in the current social climate, where conversations around mental health are growing and wellbeing is taking more of a spotlight in the media, some people who struggle with their mental health can still face stigma.
But how can we change social attitudes and fight mental health stigma in our daily lives?
Dealing with poor mental health or mental illness can be distressing and uncomfortable, even without stigmatised views. Stigma can amplify symptoms, make people less likely to reach out for help, and have a detrimental effect on recovery. So it’s vital that we are adequately prepared to support people through episodes of poor mental health just like we are with any physical ailment.
What Are Examples of Mental Health Stigma?
Mental health stigma is a negative attitude towards or discrimination against someone, based on their mental health or mental illness. Some examples of everyday mental health stigmas are:
- Use of harmful stereotypes and language
- The idea that discussing our mental health is a sign of weakness
- The idea that discussing our mental health is attention-seeking
So, how exactly can we fight mental health stigma in our daily life? What can we do to help change these social attitudes? Here are five ways to help fight mental health stigma.
1. Talk About Mental Health
Stigma works in a cycle. The fear of facing the consequences of stigma can keep people quiet about their firsthand experiences of mental ill health, leading to less understanding and, in turn, more stigma. The cycle goes on.
To break the cycle, we can start to discuss mental health openly and honestly in our everyday lives – if you feel comfortable doing so. You don’t have to become an online activist or share your life story with the world, but, should you want to, try to find the courage to discuss mental health with honesty, instead of shying away from or avoiding the conversation. Talking about your own mental health journey also makes it easier for other people to come forward and feel like they can talk about theirs, too. This shared experience can also aid us in learning more about our own experiences.
2. Practice Non-Judgemental listening
Making a safe space to have mental health conversations can be mutually beneficial to you and others, providing a support system and safe space for you to reach out. During these conversations, we need to practice non-judgmental listening. This means separating our own emotions from the situation when we are providing support to others. This also applies to yourself. If you are struggling with your mental health, try practicing being non-judgemental and compassionate towards yourself, too.
3. Do Your Research
If there is anything you don’t understand about mental health, if you’re living with mental ill health or you’re supporting someone else with a mental illness, try to learn and research as much as you can. Although there may be a wealth of advice online, try to ensure you gather help and information from trusted organisations who specialise in mental health.
4. Call Stigma Out
If we don’t call stigma out when we hear it, we can’t fight it. This doesn’t mean aggression or arguments, but if you hear something that sounds like stigma, if you feel able, it’s okay to question the meaning.
5. Train Your Workplace
Workplace wellbeing is a phrase that we’ve all likely heard in the last year. But how are companies tackling mental health stigma in the workplace? One way you can tackle this as an employer is to offer your employees mental health training. Or if you are an employee that would benefit, why not suggest some Mental Health First Aid Training for your workplace? Employees who wish to learn more about mental health can become Mental Health First Aiders, Mental Health Champions within your organisation.
Fight Mental Health Stigma Today with Workplace Mental Health Training from Great Minds At Work.