Mental illness is a problem faced by millions of Americans. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, an agency with U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 19.1% of U.S. adults experienced mental illness in 2018. This adds up to 47.6 million people, or 1 in 5 adults.
With so many people being touched by mental illness, it’s important to talk about the issue openly. This is the purpose of Mental Health Awareness week, which runs from October 6 through the 12th. To start the conversation, we want to talk about some proactive ways you can help fight the stigma around mental health.
Talk About Your Experiences
It may be difficult, but talking openly about what you’re going through can help raise awareness and reduce the stigma surrounding mental health issues. Not only can sharing your story be cathartic for you, but it may also be the encouragement others need to seek help.
Know the Facts
It’s important to fully understand your condition, or the condition of those you love. You may want to participate in discussion groups to stay informed, expand your knowledge, and increase your confidence. You can also ask your medical professional for information and resources.
Be Mindful of Language
The language used to talk about mental illness can have a profound impact on the overall conversation and attitude toward mental health. The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) encourages people to fight the stigma of mental illnesses by seeing the person and not the condition. Using "people first” language encourages a more positive environment for people to face and overcome mental health challenges.
Educate Those Around You
Mental illness is a misunderstood topic, which is why it’s important to help educate those around you. When an opportunity arises to share information about mental health issues, take it. You can help people identify their biases against those with mental illness, challenge misconceptions and share facts.
It’s important that you offer compassion and support to family, friends and colleagues that are facing mental health challenges. You can encourage them to talk about their issues by letting them know that they can be open and honest with you. If you notice that they are struggling, let them know you’re there for them and ask them if you can help.
Seek Professional Help
The fear of being judged or ridiculed keeps many people from seeking professional help. However, if you think you have a mental illness, take the leap and talk with a mental health professional. Not only can they identify your issues, they can help you learn how to live your life more fully regardless of the challenges you may face.
Mental health prejudice exists, but by encouraging open and honest discussions we can all play a part in removing the stigma. If you are looking for information on dealing with mental illness, for yourself or those you love, NAMI has a rich resource section.
Are you interested in pursuing a career in psychology? We have a range of degrees and certificates that allow you to tailor your education to match your interests and goals.