Mental Health Awareness is a necessity and so is the stigma surrounding mental illness. The mental health stigma may seem daunting to reverse, but there is a myriad of ways we can work to combat it.
In honor of Mental Health Awareness Month, I asked people from all walks of life how we can reduce the mental health stigma. I hope their enlightening words inspire you to work to eliminate the stigma.
1. Discuss mental health without shame.
“Start talking to people [about] mental health, and [don’t be] afraid to discuss. Talk to family, friends, colleagues [and] neighbors, and build from there with more people. Encourage [others] to talk about [mental illness] and ways to remove the stigma.” — Sofia
“Talk about mental illness and have real, open discussions about it and realize it’s nothing to be ashamed to talk about because mental health is so important.” — Larissa
“I think one way [we could] reduce the stigma is by talking about mental health. We all have it, so why not talk about it? We need to normalize it [like] any other physical condition that we can have.” — Yujia
2. Document your mental health transformation.
“I think the best way to reduce stigma is by exercising courage and documenting our struggles and transformation. There’s no shame in admitting you need help.” — Molly
3. View people with mental illness as people first.
“[See that] people with mental illness are still people first.” — Sydney
“Mental health needs to be talked about on a more personal level first [and a more clinical level] second. There is a person behind the figures and charts you need to get to know first, and the diagnosis comes last. People [with mental illness] are still people. Treat them first.” — Jessica
“I think we can reduce the [mental health] stigma by working not to reduce people to their mental illness. Mental illness [may] already be all-consuming for the person [who] lives with it, so let’s all work harder to see it as just a slice of who someone is, not the defining factor.” — Kat
4. Show empathy for those living with mental illness.
“We [could] reduce [the mental health stigma] by talking to people with mental illness and [trying] to [empathize] instead of judge.” — Louis
5. Make people aware of mental illness.
“We need to make more people aware of [of mental illness]. I believe that if more people are in tune with what is going on, then maybe they will be more tolerant of what is right in front of them.” — Rivka
6. Speak up if you notice signs of mental illness.
“[We could] end the [mental health] stigma by speaking up if we see signs of mental illness.” — Tylia
7. Recognize how common mental health conditions are.
“We can reduce mental health stigma by recognizing that 1 in 5 people deal with a mental illness in [any] given year. They deserve support, resources and compassion.” — Adrian
8. Be an agent of change.
“We need to be the change that people see. We [may] not see change unless [those of us with mental illness] are the voice to help us.” — Daniel
9. Advocate for ongoing mental health education.
“I think a great place for us to start as a society is education — making sure people learn about how common mental health issues are and what some common ones may look like. I think [mental health] education at a younger age is so important.” -Megan
“I believe the quickest way to [reduce] the stigma is to educate others.” — Katrina
“[We need to educate] the masses about mental illness in order to reduce [the stigma]. If people are uneducated, there is still a stigma about mental illness.” — Dakota