Destigmatizing Mental Health
Destigmatizing Mental Health
Destigmatizing mental health.
What does it actually mean?
The talk on mental health has always been clouded with stigma, preventing many individuals from reaching out for help. Many choose to suffer in silence fearing the stigmas attached to mental health. This leads many, especially men to suppress their pain and emotions. This has made many men live behind a strong facade; both conscious and unconscious. The marginalisation of mental health often prevents us from seeking help when needed. This has especially created barriers to therapy that often blind the minds of people towards mental health.
In recent years, there has been a growing emphasis on mental health and the need to destigmatize mental health. Mental health issues and topics are being openly discussed and accepted but also being encouraged, especially in social media. This represents that society is beginning to acknowledge that experiencing mental health concerns at some point in life is normal. Mental health concerns are not something that should be seen with disgust. Destigmatizing mental health creates a more empathetic and supportive world towards those suffering from mental health concerns.
Strategies to Destigmatize Mental Health
Here are several strategies to destigmatize mental health:
1.0 Educating on Awareness
Promote mental health awareness starting from school by initiatives like incorporating mental health as a subject taught. Educate the public on mental health concerns and the importance of seeking help. Education; is a powerful tool that has the ability to influence one’s thoughts and perceptions.
2.0 Mental Health First Aid
Mental health first aid such as listening skills, empathy, genuineness and unconditional positive regard are something everyone should equip themselves with. Educating and training the public with mental health first aid training is important to teach how to respond to someone who is experiencing a mental health crisis or struggling with mental health concerns such as panic attacks, nervous breakdowns, anxiety, etc. This would help individuals to feel more confident while helping others.
3.0 Normalizing Therapy
There are many stereotypes and stigmas that surround one who seeks mental health assistance. They are often viewed as mentally disabled individuals. It is important to educate and normalize therapy, as therapy is wider than what we perceive it to be. Therapy embarks on one’s healing, helps one towards self-discovery, dissociates from past pain, sets boundaries, etc. Normalizing therapy would make many comfortably come out to seek assistance when needed without shame.
4.0 Open Conversations
Encourage more open and honest conversations regarding mental health, without invalidating and dismissing one’s story. Open conversations would lead many to share their concerns and pain without fear of judgement, leading towards better emotional regulation when their pain is being shared. Celebrities and public figures coming out and sharing their mental health struggles would further reduce mental health stigma on a larger scale.
5.0 Emphasizing Language
It is also crucial to be mindful of the language used while discussing about mental health. Be mindful to avoid stigmatizing and derogatory terms that further reinforce the stereotype. Instead, let us utilize a more empathetic and respectful language that humanizes individuals who are experiencing mental health concerns.
6.0 Supportive Environment
Creating a supportive and inclusive environment for one to live in (home, school, workplace, and community) is essential to normalize mental health. An inclusive environment is where everyone is accepted for who they are and is supported for being themselves. It promotes healthier mental health and would make one believe that they are being accepted and embraced not only during the good days but also when they are low and struggling with their mental health.
7.0 Media Representations
Media plays a huge role in destigmatizing mental health. Encouraging more responsible media representations, especially on what we post in social media (Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, etc.), can have a significant influence on the public’s perception of mental health and has the ability to change the stigmatizing view of many on mental health.
8.0 Promote Self-Care
Self-care has been often viewed as a selfish act, but is is actually an act of prioritizing yourself and your needs. It should be encouraged from a young age and it is never too late to start self-care at any age. Self-care includes physical, emotional, mental, social and spiritual self-care. It is also important be start with small and achievable self-care activities and be consistent in promoting better mental health as this will be able to effectively help with destigmatizing mental health.
9.0 Mental Health Policies
Mental health policies such as mental health insurance, medical leaves for mental health breakdowns, anti-discrimination laws, and other mental health policies should be legalized to make destigmatizing mental health possible. This would lead many to be more open about their mental health concerns and take mental health breaks when needed without fear of judgment.
10.0 Celebrate Resilience
Let us normalize celebrating stories of resilience and recovery with the purpose of destigmatizing mental health. We often celebrate stories of heroic bravery physical strength, and recovering from life-threatening illness. Let us also celebrate stories of trauma recovery, healing, bravery to push through mental health concerns, etc. Highlighting these success stories can inspire many souls to heal, instil hope within them and reduce the feelings of shame in their mental health concerns.
In short, destigmatizing mental health should be an ongoing initiative which requires a collective effort from every walk of life, communities, educational and healthcare systems, government, and private organizations. With collaborative efforts, together we can create a more understanding and compassionate society where mental health is treated with the same importance as physical health. By gradually eliminating the barriers of fear, shame, and marginalizing that have been instilled within us in regard to mental health, we can pave toward creating a society where open conversations are encouraged, better understanding towards human struggles, and vulnerable and seeking for help is considered as a sign of strength and healing, not weakness.
“The greatest contribution the society can provide to mankind is to embrace and let us live the way we want to without judgement; creating an inclusive society.”
To learn more about the importance of mental health, you can read through the blog here.
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