Taking care of your mental health and well-being is absolutely essential for everyone, and it’s no different than taking care of your physical health, yet mental health is still widely misunderstood and stigmatised. It's essential to understand why talking about mental health is important and how we can work towards breaking the stigma surrounding it.
Stigma leads to a reluctance to seek help or treatment from those suffering. Some of the harmful effects of stigma can include:
- Lack of understanding by loved ones and colleagues
- Fewer opportunities for work, school or social activities
- Bullying, physical violence or harassment
- Health insurance that doesn't adequately cover their mental illness treatment
- The belief that they'll never succeed at certain challenges or that they can't improve their situation
Studies have shown that 1 in 4 people in the world will experience some form of mental illness in their lifetime. Despite this staggering statistic, many people still struggle to talk openly about their mental health. This can lead to feelings of isolation and reluctance to seek help, which can worsen mental health conditions.
Breaking the stigma surrounding mental health is crucial to encouraging people to seek the support they need and reducing the negative impact of mental illness on individuals, families, and society as a whole. Mental illness is treatable, and people with mental illnesses can live fulfilling and happy lives. In this blog, we'll explore why talking about mental health is important and what we can do to help make it more accepted.
Encourages people to seek help
One of the biggest barriers to people seeking help for mental health illnesses is the stigma surrounding mental illness itself. Many people feel ashamed or embarrassed to admit they're struggling and may be reluctant to talk to anyone about it. By talking openly and positively about mental health and sharing these with one another, we can help to create a more supportive environment where people feel more comfortable seeking help.
Improving understanding of mental health conditions
The prevalence of some mental health disorders has risen in the past few decades. According to AIHW, over 44% of Australian teens are estimated to have experienced a mental disorder at some time in their life. Mental health conditions are often misunderstood, and people with mental illnesses are often subjected to negative stereotypes and discrimination. Talking about mental health can help to increase awareness and understanding of these conditions, reducing the stigma and promoting a more accepting and supportive environment.
Building a supportive community
When people talk openly about their mental health, they can help to build a supportive community of others who have experienced similar struggles. This can provide a sense of comfort and validation for those struggling with mental health conditions and help to reduce feelings of isolation and loneliness.
Supporting businesses like Noxen that understand mental health and give back to the community and charities through their profits shows dedication to breaking the stigma of mental health. Supporting charities such as I Am Hope through donations can help them continue to grow their message and provide further support to everyday Kiwis suffering from mental health.
Promoting healthy habits & coping strategies
Speaking about mental health can also help to promote healthy habits and coping strategies for managing mental health conditions. By sharing experiences and advice, we can help encourage people to take proactive steps to care for their mental health.
So, how can we help to break the stigma surrounding mental health and make it more acceptable to talk about?
Be a positive role model
Lead by example and talk openly and positively about mental health. Role models can play an important role in destigmatising perceptions about mental health in society. Sharing your stories and experiences with someone about your mental health or inspiring them to pursue a healthier lifestyle can help to normalise the conversation and encourage others around you to feel more comfortable discussing their mental health.
If you know someone who is struggling with their mental health, offer your support and encouragement. Sometimes it will seem obvious when someone is going through a hard time. Simply telling them that you see their struggle can be an important step and may encourage them to speak out. Listen to them, validate their feelings, and encourage them to seek help if they need it.
Do your own research about mental illness and learn about mental health conditions,
their symptoms, and available treatments. Most of us know the difference between physical illnesses such as a cold, sprains, injuries, etc. but most don’t refer to them under a singular “physical illness”. Similarly, there are many different mental illnesses, each with its own unique symptoms and ailments. Understanding and sharing this information can help eliminate the misconceptions that contribute to the stigma.
Use inclusive language
Mental health conditions are often used negatively as adjectives, which is problematic. Be conscious of the language you use when talking about mental health. There are many types of mental illnesses. It’s crucial to avoid general statements that fail to recognise the unique symptoms and treatments that come with different mental illnesses. Avoid terms that can be stigmatising and choose a language that is inclusive and non-judgmental.
Speak up against the stigma
If you hear others making negative comments or jokes about mental health, speak up and challenge the stigma. Speaking up about mental health issues can positively impact you, your family, your friends, and the society that you live in. Do your part in reducing the stigma attached to mental health by speaking up and advocating for those who need help.
Talking about mental health is essential for breaking down the stigma surrounding it and encouraging people to seek the support they need. By being open and supportive, we can create a more accepting and understanding environment where everyone feels comfortable talking about their mental health. So, let's start the conversation today and make mental health a priority in our lives and our communities.