Can you imagine a mentally ill patient shouldering the blame and guilt for his/her condition? Well, it happens!
Stigmas come into play in cruel and destructive ways. They can leave patients dealing with depression and anxiety feeling like a dramatic attention-seeker who always tries to overshadow others. People with eating disorders are held accountable for eating too much or too little without understanding why they actually do so.
People with stress and anger management issues often shoulder the blame for failing to manage their emotions. Many of us have felt belittled after people describe our suffering as a phase that will pass over. Many of us have felt powerless when people describe our symptoms forces we can control with willpower and self-control.
That’s not how mental illnesses work, and stigma typically emerges from a lack of awareness around mental health issues. People fail to understand these symptoms and make mentally ill patients feel ashamed for behaviors they cannot control. Stigma holds unyielding and unprecedented power, and it’s time we started combatting it on an individual level.
Keep reading to discover powerful ways to deal with the stigma around mental health issues.
Self-awareness is the first step to combat stigma around mental health and helps patients who are struggling internally. How can you make yourself more aware of mental health challenges? There are various avenues, resources, and platforms. You can start by devouring literature and books on human psychology and mental illnesses.
You can volunteer for community efforts and sign up for informal training and psychological courses in your college/university. You can also sign up for online courses, training programs, or pursue an academic degree in psychology. It would be best if you decided on the ideal learning curve for your interests.
Do you wish to pursue a career in helping people with mental illnesses? Or do you merely want to gain more information to become a good Samaritan? Many people shy away from a career in psychology because they don’t want to pursue a medicinal program. However, you don’t necessarily have to get a hardcore healthcare degree to become a psychologist. Consider education in allied healthcare. In fact, if you’re wondering what can you do with an allied health degree, the program will enable you to work with patients suffering from various mental conditions and dispositions. You can explore specializations in therapy and holistic treatments, alongside training as a licensed counselor. You can also channel your expertise towards research or volunteer help to uplift your local community.
Open a Discussion
Are you suffering from a mental disorder or caring for a patient diagnosed with PTSD or schizophrenia? People who experience mental suffering or the illness of a loved one realize the gravity of mental diseases, disorders, and the consequences of stigma. They are better equipped and aware of the severity of these illnesses, coping mechanisms, and symptoms.
It is essential to share information by opening a discussion and creating a community that functions as a support network for mental health patients. You can fight stigma by opening a conversation, even if you do it online. It doesn’t matter how many people you reach. Even if you manage to impact the life of one person, consider your mission accomplished.
Even as a caregiver, you can achieve incredible feats by helping other family members understand mental conditions and symptoms. The goal is to overcome misinformation and misrepresentation and help people understand a mentally ill person’s struggle, and not shame them as they deal with it.
Standing up for them
Do you feel angry when you see people making fun of people on the autism disorder spectrum? Do you find yourself struggling to stay calm when people at work make fun of someone going through a mental illness at work?
It’s time to channel all this anger and frustration towards helping and standing up for victims. But, how to become a victim advocate and lend support to those in need? You can carve out a promising and rewarding career as a victim advocate and psychologist. Or, you can simply do your part as a good Samaritan and speak out when you witness discrimination against the mentally ill.
There are many ways we can stand up for victims who suffer from mental illnesses. We can identify many patients in our communities who are on the verge of joblessness, homelessness, domestic issues, or physical danger. We can help stage an intervention or encourage them to get the help they need.
Language truly matters
When it comes to fighting stigma, how you choose your words and reasoning makes a big difference. We commonly use demeaning and derogatory terms while describing mental illnesses. Autistic children and those with learning disabilities are frequently referred to as dumb. This is downright cruel and insensitive! It is crucial to understand these illnesses and use language very, very carefully.
It is crucial to avoid referring to mental illnesses as adjectives. Most people fail to realize that their language is problematic and can hurt people diagnosed with mental diseases. It’s not justifiable to advise depression patients to muster willpower and rise above their feelings of sadness.
Such statements only reflect a lack of knowledge and insensitivity towards the patient’s plight. If you don’t know what to say, it’s best to stay quiet and offer silent support instead of saying the wrong thing that could hurt a patient’s self-esteem.
It is essential for all of us, as a society, to advocate for equal treatment for physical and mental illnesses. People are mindful of patients diagnosed with heart diseases and cancer, yet they’re insensitive to patients with depression and anxiety.
People understand the dynamics of rheumatoid arthritis, but bipolar disorders are challenging to comprehend. It is crucial to advocate and encourage equality between mental and physical illnesses. When people understand a mental disorder’s facts, they are more mindful while making comments and observations.
When someone struggles to get through day after day, a kind word and sincere smile can make a tremendous difference. The most impactful way to fight off mental health stigma is to uplift, encourage and empower mentally ill patients.
We always try to make a significant impact, but it’s the more minor gestures that genuinely make a difference!