May’s National Mental Health Awareness Month. For some people, seeking help for mental health issues such as anxiety, depression, schizophrenia, and or bipolar disorder can often be difficult due for the fear of stigma that surrounds it. Why when we are having a mental health concern to do people feel apprehensive about seeking help? One contributing factor are the negative representations of mental illness throughout society and the media. How can we collectively as a whole find supportive, non-judgemental ways for individuals needing help?
Here are some suggestions that can promote change:
1. Educate yourself and others.
Judgments often comes from a lack of understanding and misinformation. It is essential when obtaining information that it is a reliable source and factual. There is a tremendous amount of information available on the internet, one organization National Alliance for Mental Illness (www.NAMI.org) provides up to date information.
2. Stress the importance of mind/body connection with your children.
From a very early age, create an open dialogue with your children. Teach them that overall wellness is a mind/body connection. Encourage them feel comfortable talking about mental health concerns with the same comfort level when there is a physical complaint.
3. Choose your words wisely.
Avoid stigmatizing language such as” psycho, schizo, or crazy”. If you hear someone use these terms, you can remind them that is not acceptable terminology when discussing a person with a mental health diagnosis.
4. Remove shame from the equation.
Feeling ashamed about mental illness can often leads to isolation. Mental illness does not define who we are, it is something that people have to monitor and treat like any other health issue. When we are honest with others about our problems we feel empowered, the more one has control their life, the less we are concerned of the opinion of others.
5. Be proactive, Share your story with others.
Join a support group in your area, reach out on social media, create a blog about it. There are many avenues to raise awareness within your community.
Reference: NAMI www.NAMI.org