With technological and societal developments, there is still a stigma around mental illness. Some people refuse to believe, deem it unimportant, and sometimes shy away from mentioning the words “depression” and “anxiety.” This is simply caused by a lack of knowledge and understanding. Other people behave negatively and treat others differently, causing those suffering to deter from seeking professional help.
A review of a study of stigma shows that many still have a negative view of people diagnosed with mental illness, though they accept the medical definition of it. There are three different types: public stigma refers to the negative light of the public with mental illness; self-stigma is a negative attitude toward your own condition; and institutional stigma involves government policies and organizations that limit people with mental illness.
Mental health stigma causes two steps backward with how far the world has become in teaching awareness about mental illnesses. This can also cause patients to see treatment and seeking help as a weakness.
Treat all types of patients equally
The first thing to do is not undermine and downplay your illness and compare it with physical ones. Mental illnesses can be just as much as cancer, tuberculosis, and other physical illnesses that need monitoring and treatment.
When someone retorts or makes unnecessary comments, comparing the two, you can question their viewpoints with heart disease or diabetes patients and why they don’t make fun or see them differently compared to people with mental disorders.
Educate yourself and other people
Talking about it can help others gain perspective. You might even be able to influence others to do the same. Let them know more about what you are going through. Sharing your story about your struggles can be an excellent way to educate people.
You can start by sharing it in the comfort of your home. By educating family members and loved ones, you will be able to have a support system and might be comfortable enough to share your daily struggles.
Show empathy and compassion to people diagnosed with mental health
Showing other people that you care and can be there for them just by giving hugs, holding their hands for assurance, simply asking them how they are, and all the simple little things can already mean so much to them. You can also set an example for others, and hopefully, they’ll follow suit.
Many people are silently fighting their own battles. Mental illnesses know no gender or age, though they are more prevalent with young adults aged 18 to 25. Still, this doesn’t mean that it is not common with older people. Dementia and depression are common among the elderly. They tend to be more difficult to treat since they’re stubborn or are too old to attend therapy sessions and doctor’s appointments. A home healthcare franchise isn’t such a bad idea since it would be best for them to be treated at home.
Talk openly about possible treatments
Don’t feel like you’re walking around the broken glass when you say that you are going to therapy or seeing a psychiatrist because that means you are on the path of wanting to be better. You can also share positive messages about treatments, openly talk about their effectiveness, and possibly recommend good therapists. By being empowered to speak about such things, you will help more people in the long run.
Be conscious of the words you use
Words matter—they can either serve as a help or as a trigger. Do not say hurtful words when talking about illnesses and yourself to people you may know. You matter, and you deserve to be respected and not be labeled based on stereotypes. Avoid words such as “crazy,” “cuckoo,” or “nuts.” There are much more fitting words. Maybe you can call them based on what they are diagnosed with, like bipolar disorder, anxiety, depression, PTSD, schizophrenia, and many others.
Learning to accept other people’s conditions, being aware of them, and taking the time to understand what the illnesses are and how they can be treated will be a stepping stone to ending mental health stigma. Refuse to give others the chance to partake in how you should live your life.
You should not let others dictate how you view your illness. Small changes can happen within one person. It thus creates a ripple effect with others, collecting voices filled with souls that are driven to help not only themselves but to others, too. By fighting the stigma, you can make a difference and possibly even save lives.