The Dangers of Mental Health Stigma
Mental health stigma is a real (and very dangerous) part of our current society. Not only is it damaging to the self-image of those struggling with their mental health, it prevents the others within the United States from benefiting from education on this important topic. This reduces the effectiveness of everyday support systems and the impactful role they play in treatment for mental health.
The lack of education and resource in regards to mental health within the United States is atrocious. Instead of seeking to educate the population about mental health and the ways we can support those individuals facing mental health issues, we treat it as a taboo conversation. We resist the methods that research proves is successful. Instead of funding preventative efforts and seeking to help those who need it most, we fill our prisons with people who are desperate for help.
We maintain this stigma in other ways as well. We treat these individuals as if their disease is a piece of their imagination. Regardless of the tangible symptoms being experienced, they are treated as if the option is right in front of their face.
“Just be happy.”
“Go do the things you love. That will help.”
“Is it really that big of a deal?”
Mental health is not controlled by the individual facing it. Would you tell a person with cancer to just “get over it?” How about someone with diabetes? No. The only way to overcome mental illness is to try various treatment methods. Just as other diseases, there is no single way to treat mental illness. Considering several options is the best way to find what works for this individual. Allow people time to find their success and support them in doing so.
Treating mental illness as less than their disease belittles the individual who is fighting for a normal life. Refuse to participate in the stigma.
If you love someone who is struggling with mental illness, take the appropriate steps to support them in the ways they need. Educate yourself on the mental illness they have been diagnosed with. Learn the typical symptoms, the treatments, and other relevant information about this disease. Ask your friend questions. Don’t be afraid to want to know more. Avoid being condescending, but rather seek to understand the individual on a deeper level.
You are capable of being the hope this individual needs.
You have the potential to change somebody’s life.