A major issue in the world of mental health is the stigma surrounding it. To put an end to stigma, we must first start by defining it. What is it and who creates it? When we can identify these 2 things, we can then begin to explore how we as people can stop the stigma.
What is stigma?
Stigma is a mark of disgrace associated with a particular circumstance, quality, or person. When something such as mental illness is stigmatized, it makes society stereotype people with one of these illnesses. People with mental illness often feel weak due to said stigma, making it harder to speak up. In 2006, every one in five people said if they suffered from depression the would not speak up. Another one in three people said they would not vote for a politician with mental illness.*
*Statistics from http://www.mentalhealth.wa.gov.au/mental_illness_and_health/mh_stigma.aspx
Who creates stigma?
People who suffer from a mental illness most often say that the people they feel stigmatized the most by is family and friends. People with a mental illness often feel they are excluded, and gossiped about. 46% of teenagers say they feel stigma from family, while another 62% feel they feel it from peers.* The stigma come mainly from misguided views of people with mental health problems; they are violent, unpredictable, or just different from everyone else. This assumption implies that people with mental illnesses are wrong, and not able to function normally in society.
*Statistics from https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/why-we-worry/201308/mental-health-stigma
On October 10th, it was world mental health day. Though mental health is being more acknowledged, the world has a long way to go in erasing some of the stigma already created around it. Bernie Sanders posted a tweet on twitter saying the following: "We need a revolution in mental health delivery in this country so people can get the help they need when they need it. #WorldMentalHealthDay".
Though our government is starting to acknowledge the fact that mental health treatment isn't an accessible option for way too many people, there is still so little being done about it. A question that a lot of people ask but don't make an effort to answer is how do we eliminate the stigma?
Though there are a number of ways we can begin to erase the stigma, and a large number of people working to end the stigma, there are not nearly enough people working towards this common goal. Though a small number of people is an amazing start, even more lives could be touched, and more people could have their views about people with mental illness changed with a larger number of people working to end the stigma.
Ways To Help?
There are so many more options to get active in the mental health awareness, and you can find even more ways to get involved through something as simple as a google search. The stigma surrounding mental health is only going to grow unless we actively speak up about it. The easiest way, and most effective way, is to use your own voice. It's time to speak up and end the stigma!