Awareness is the first step to educating the
public, fighting stigma, and providing support to the nearly 60 million people
in the U.S. who struggle with a mental illness. Most of us find ourselves
personally connected with the topic of mental health. We may have had a loved one or known
someone who has been affected. We might be the
one who is struggling. Either way, knowing what to say, how to act, or what we can do to help
is not always clear.
Communicating about mental health is one of the best ways to learn and build acceptance. Here are a few ideas that will help take the
stigma out of illnesses such as depression, anxiety, and bipolar disorder and help public
perception move in a more positive direction.
Learn the facts
Millions of people live with a mental illness or in a state of poor mental health. Educate yourself on the facts and then educate those around you. One in 5 Americans is affected by a mental illness. Stigma is toxic to good mental health because it
creates an environment of shame, fear, and silence that prevents many people
from seeking help and treatment. The perception of mental illness won’t change
unless we act to change it.
Learn the signs and symptoms mental health distress and know
where to get help in your area. Take a mental health screening and share your results.
Show others that checking up on your mental health is nothing to be ashamed of, it is okay to not be okay.
Talk and listen
Sometimes spreading mental health awareness can simply mean supporting and listening to those close to us. Be willing to ask people how they’re doing and mean it. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, but do not
judge. Always be ready to listen and
encourage. Try to educate those around you on how to talk about mental illness.
Never use words like “crazy” or “insane” as insults . Talk to loved ones about
how they are feeling. Regularly check in with those close to you, especially if
you know they are dealing with a mental illness. Be a supportive friend. Talk
about mental health with your children. Don’t assume kids are too young to understand.
Depression can affect children as young as elementary school.
Take to social
health awareness messages on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. While stigma is
still a major barrier, seeing posts, and messages on social media allows those
struggling with poor mental health to know that they have support. Advocating within our circles of influence
helps ensure that these individuals have the same rights and opportunities as
other members of our community. Showing respect and acceptance removes a
significant barrier to successfully coping with their illness. Having people
see them as people and not as an illness can make the biggest difference for
someone who is struggling with their mental health.
To see what our community is doing about this health priority, view our Community Health Improvement Plan through the links on the right.