Written by Brandon Rafidi
Given that mental health issues are extremely widespread across the nation and world, it is important that every person does their part to ensure that their community is not only rejecting any practices that act to perpetuate the stigma surrounding these difficulties, but also engaging in the movement to normalize the open discussion on how people can recover.
It is crucial to understand that as long as public stigma is an issue, self-stigma will also be an issue.
In order to help stop the stigma related to mental health disorders, each person can start by being cognizant of the language that they use when talking about people who experience these issues. Instead of choosing words that are demeaning when describing others, such as “crazy” or “insane,” you can describe the person as “experiencing a mental health issue.” Although this might seem trivial, the way in which we speak about these topics is actually of utmost importance because it can shape public perception. It is crucial to understand that as long as public stigma is an issue, self-stigma will also be an issue. In other words, if society continues to label individuals with mental health issues in a negative manner, then those people who are struggling with symptoms will continue to view themselves in a negative manner. Clearly, this is not conducive to a person overcoming the challenge that they are facing. The reality is that the more open and comfortable people are with their mental health issue, the more willing they will be to seek clinical care and support from their family and friends.
In addition to being careful with the words that people use in describing others, it is also important that everyone encourages the open discussion of mental health issues along with efforts to educate those who are less knowledgeable on the topic. As these conversations become more normalized, individuals who are struggling with mental health issues will be less likely to feel ashamed of what they are experiencing. Moreover, as the amount of people who are informed on what it truly means to have a mental health issue increases, so will the availability of resources that individuals can utilize in their recovery experience.
Ultimately, it is crucial that we make our greatest attempt to stop the stigma surrounding mental health because these are issues that should be treated more like physical illnesses, and less like weaknesses. In the same way that our physical health is tended to, our mental health needs to be taken seriously in order for individuals to achieve a greater sense of well-being.