The stigma around mental illness runs deep. But it doesn’t have to be that way. You can do many things—some small, some large—to help end the stigma about mental health care and support the people you love who are struggling with their mental health. As the Canadian Mental Health Association says, everyone deserves to feel well. We’ve compiled a list of six of the best ways to help you change the tide in your community. Read on to find out more.
- Remember That Healing Means Something Different for Everyone
It’s important to remember that healing is not a linear process. There is no one “right” way to heal, and there are many ways it can be done. Your partner may not be able to do the things you think should help them feel better—but that doesn’t mean they’re not trying their best or making steps forward on their recovery journey.
Remembering this will help you avoid getting frustrated when you see your partner, friend, or family member struggling or feeling down — and it’s an integral part of helping them feel supported during this challenging time in their lives!
- Don’t Believe Everything You Hear
Shhh…. here’s a secret. People may say that they have it all figured out and that they are the only ones who know what is best, but they don’t. That includes us and every other mental health care professional you could ever meet. We’re not perfect, and we never will be. But, if there was one thing we learned from our collective experience (after talking to friends, family, and acquaintances with mental illness), it’s that we can’t let stigma prevent us from getting help when we need it most.
Just our two cents, but we’d highly recommend that you stop listening to those overbearing people in your life that tell you how things should be. It would help if you stood up for those struggling because of their mental health condition by ensuring that everyone understands that recovery does not happen overnight—or in some cases at all—and many times requires multiple attempts before finding success.
It’s time we acknowledge this so people can begin talking about their experiences openly without the fear of being judged or criticized.
- Seek Out Accurate Information
One of the best ways you can help end the stigma surrounding mental health care is by seeking out accurate information. Don’t be afraid to ask questions or call out misinformation when you see it, whether on TV or social media.
Some examples of misleading statements include:
- Talking about suicide is attention-seeking behavior and shouldn’t be taken seriously — this isn’t how you should see it; sometimes, people say things about wanting to die as a cry for help and a way to let people know that they are struggling, and we need to listen compassionately and take appropriate actions to make sure that they get the help they need.
- People who get therapy for mental illness are more likely to commit violent crimes — actually, research shows that individuals with untreated depression are at higher risk for committing violent acts than those who receive treatment.
- Be Honest When Talking About Your Mental Health, and Don’t Be Afraid to Share Your Own Story
You can stand up to stigma by being honest about your own mental health. Take the time to share with others how you are feeling and what you have been going through, even if it’s just a simple text message or a quick conversation in person.
When someone else shares their experience with depression or anxiety, it helps normalize their struggles and show that they are not alone. Being honest about your own struggles is also an essential step toward ending stigma because it shows people that there is nothing shameful or embarrassing about getting help for mental illness. Instead, we should all be proud of our strength and dignity in seeking treatment.
Finally, when you open up about your experiences with mental health struggles (or even just acknowledge them), people will easily empathize with you if they ever face similar issues. This empathy makes them more likely to seek out help themselves when necessary!
- Be Understanding of People Who Choose Not to or Cannot Seek Treatment
It’s OK not to want to go.
It’s understandable that you may not have the money for it, as there is a lack of accessible mental health resources.
It’s OK if you don’t think you need it.
It’s not your fault that you’re ill. It may not be anyone else’s fault either, but it’s also very understandable if others have caused or contributed to your mental illness.
- Support the People in Your Life Who Are Struggling with Mental Illness, even if You Don’t Know How or Where to Start
You can help the people in your life by:
- Not being afraid to ask how you can support them. It’s OK to ask questions, and it’s also OK not to know what to do.
- Not being afraid to ask for help yourself if needed. If you think someone has a mental illness, don’t be scared of saying something or asking them if they have ever thought about getting help with their symptoms.
- Not being afraid to listen and be there for them when they need it most, even if this means simply making sure they know that someone cares about what they are going through and wants them around no matter what happens in life.
Hopefully, this guide has empowered you to start a conversation about mental health. Remember that every person and their experience will be different, so there’s no “right” way to help someone who is struggling. The most important thing is to support the people in your life by being honest about your experiences, seeking accurate information, and not believing everything you hear!
We hope you enjoyed this article and can take something out of it to use for yourself or share with someone you know. Also, let us know in the comments if you have any tips on how you have helped reduce the stigma around mental health.