Take Charge of Your Health - Mental Health Awareness Begins with Us
"Everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about." Robin Williams
Why is it that when people are diagnosed with a physical health condition our society offers empathy and compassion, yet those diagnosed with mental illness often face negative stigmas? These negative stereotypes have significant harmful effects, including: discouraging many from seeking mental health services which could improve their condition, diminishing a sense of self esteem and causing isolation. Further, this stigma can lead to discrimination in potentially restricted job opportunities or avoidance because others assume the person is unstable or could be violent.
Mental illness describes many conditions including anxiety, mood, personality, addiction and impulse control disorders. 450 million people (37 million in the US alone) suffer from mental health conditions, but less than half receive care! Increased awareness and education are required to help address this important health issue. Beginning the conversation is the first step. The more we talk about the myths and realities of mental illness, the more understanding we will become. Mental illnesses are diseases just like diabetes, heart conditions and cancer. Blame or guilt are not part of the solution, rather, each of us needs to extend our support and humanity to those who struggle with their mental health.
These are some simple yet important things you can do to reduce this stigma:
- Gain knowledge. Learn the facts about mental health conditions and encourage others to do the same.
- Be aware of your attitude. See the person, not the mental illness.
- Be socially aware. Act as a role model.
- Talk to your child's school and caregivers about mental health literacy campaigns to improve knowledge, behaviors and encourage students to seek mental health services.
- Watch your words. A diagnosis is not a label.
- Speak up when you hear others ostracize people because of their mental health challenges.
Remember, a mental illness is never anything to be ashamed of, but negative stigmas shame us all. It’s your health and your life – go ahead, take control and insist on the care you and others deserve.
For information on specific mental health disorders visit https://psychcentral.com/disorders/