Each October, the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) designates a week to increase education about all things mental health. This year, the week is focusing on decreasing the stigma that surrounds mental health and mental illness. No matter if you are someone who lives with mental health conditions, if you are someone who wants to better advocate for people living with mental health conditions, or if you are someone who admittedly doesn’t know much about mental health, we encourage you to cure stigma by noticing stereotypes, increasing education, and advocating for those living with mental health conditions.
Did you know 1 in 5 Americans lives with mental health conditions? The stigma that surrounds different mental health conditions can make those living with the condition feel different, judged, or helpless. They could feel embarrassed or worried about asking for help or seeking treatment. Stigma can also increase the risk of isolation, depression, and even self-harm.
You can begin to cure stigma by noticing stereotypes that often sneak into daily conversation. For example, avoid using the word crazy throughout your day and gently point out when someone else does. You can also notice your feelings, and the feelings of others when you see someone with mental health conditions nearby. Do you feel afraid? Do you roll your eyes or even make a joke? Take note of how you handle these situations and if you perpetuate any stereotypes.
One of the best ways to break stigma that surrounds mental health conditions is to simply educate yourself about them. Beyond learning diagnosis and the medical jargon, tune in to building empathy by learning about the daily life of someone living with mental health conditions. Even better, learn about the life of someone who cares for a loved one who lives with a mental health condition. You can learn more about mental healthon our website, starting your journey to understanding a new perspective.
Finally, cure stigma surrounding mental health conditions by choosing to advocate for the mental health community. You can volunteer at a local organization or learn more about specific legislation in your area that could protect (or harm) the rights of those living with mental health conditions. Learn more about getting started here.
This October, begin your journey to notice stereotypes about mental illness, increase your own education and empathy, as well as advocate for those in the mental health community. We stand proudly beside you as we work to cure stigma.