Do you know what is the best way to shun the stigmas attached to mental health? By normalizing the conversations around mental illnesses. By talking about mental health like we talk about physical illnesses.
Mental health is as important as physical health, repeat after me, mental health is as important as our physical health and it is vital that we prioritize our emotional well-being as well. The fact that we cannot pour from an empty cup needs to adopted by all of us in order to be in harmony with our health and a positive mindset.
In this blog, I am going to talk about how we can smash the stigmas and discrimination attached to mental illnesses by raising our collective voices.
How does stigma affect mental health?
There is this huge gap of awareness in our global society when it comes to discussing our mental health status. We are not allowed to feel overwhelmed, irritated, angry, and sad. We are expected to put on that happy face and display our brightest smile, please everyone with our alluring charm and be available for everyone right ton time. We don’t even get proper healing time from any traumatic experience.
Do you know what this all has to lead to? That dire need of perfection, a race, a hunger to strive, to prove oneself, to be outstanding, to stretch beyond our capacities, to be what we are not, to whittle ourselves to meet other’s expectations.
Even when a person doesn’t feel himself and wants to talk about it, they hide and prefer isolation because we as a society have failed to provide a safe space to open up. We have failed as humans to be considerate and genuinely kind enough to put ourselves in other’s shoes and bear that shoe bite for a few seconds. Hell, it hurts!
That’s how stigma, stereotypes, and discrimination affect mental health. The mental health stigmas don’t let anyone suffering from any sort of disorder to open up, to talk about their feelings, and seek timely help. All this, not only hampers the overall health of the individual but also worsens the problem in the long-run.
5 Ways to Fight Mental Health Stigma
To fight something we must believe in it and the worst part here is that a person going through some kind of mental disorder fights two fights within, one with the illness and the second one with the society and their friends and family who blame him for his situation, who label him saying he is playing victim cards, and say things they should never say to a person going through deep shit.
I have been there and I have experienced the worst form of behaviors from the people I knew, my mentor knew I had severe depression, I was going through a rough path yet she chose to demean me, label me and isolate me. People lack empathy, people lack kindness and they will not even think twice before ruining rather destroying your mental peace, so protect your peace.
Many people who struggle with the symptoms of depression, anxiety, or another mental illness don’t feel that they can be open with their friends or family. It is now on us that we must do whatever we can to help normalize these experiences that will be helpful in breaking the mental health stigma.
Mental health stigma needs to be smashed and here is how we can contribute as a society.
1.) Educate Yourself
Often, people don’t recognize or know the signs and symptoms of common mental illnesses like clinical depression. And nowadays when we are exposed to information overflow, we even self-diagnose ourselves, we talk about OCD, anxiety, post-partum depression, depression, PTSD.
But here we need to understand that there is a huge difference between self-diagnosis and clinical-diagnosis. More and more awareness is possible only when we learn the right language and use a sensitive tone to talk and discuss mental healthcare.
2.) Talk about it
I started writing about my mental health issues in my personal blog earlier in 2017, recently I started opening up about it on my Instagram handle as well. It did not only helped me to be more aware of myself and I got connected with many like-minded souls.
Mental health stigmas can be smashed with a little vital approach. There are people who need validation, the courage and strength to open up and we talk about our condition, we somehow enable others to open up and talk. Talk about your mental health condition like you talk about your headache, stomach ache, or acidity.
3.) Be kind to people with mental disorders
We often think that people who go through a lot in their lives become humble and kind, but you will be surprised to know that I have met people who are clinically depressed and even psychologists working in this sphere yet they lack empathy and kindness.
Be kind to people with mental health issues, you don’t have to sympathize with them or make them feel pity for themselves but at least we must be able to empathize with them, understand them and listen to them with an open mind.
4.) Be open about seeing a counselor
The best way to beat the mental health stigma is to talk about it and when we talk about it, we normalize the stereotypes attached to it. Typically people do not visit a counselor or therapist even they are going through deep mental health issues, but for good mental health just like our physical health, we must see a counselor.
Once we decide to seek counseling sessions, we make sure that we care about our inner world as equally as we care about our outer world. Hence when we tell others that yes I am visiting a counselor we normalize it.
5.) Be a mental health advocate
Yes, you can become a mental health advocate too. You do not need any degree or certification to promote wellness and good vibes, all you need is a tough determination and pure intention. I am sure people who go through some sort of mental health disorders have a lot to share. The more they share about their experience and overcoming their situation the more they pass on the strength to others.
Your story can become someone else survivor guide. You can be a guiding light to many. Choose yourself today and every day. Rise up!
Priyanka Nair is the author of 26 Days 26 Ways for a Happier you and Ardhaviram. An NLP practitioner and Founder of Sanity Daily, helping you prioritize your mental health. Let’s build a happy community.