What’s Wrong Wednesday: Mental health is still viewed as threatening and uncomfortable
A recent study found that 69 percent of adults experiencing psychological distress would hide mental health problems from co-workers and classmates, and 38 percent would even hide their problems from their friends and family. Significantly, 21 percent said that they would delay getting treatment out of fear that others would find out. By raising awareness, we can increase the percentage of people who are willing to seek the help they need.
Mental health stigma can be divided into two distinct types: social stigma is characterized by prejudicial attitudes and discriminating behavior directed towards individuals with mental health problems as a result of the psychiatric label they have been given. In contrast, perceived stigma or self-stigma is the internalizing by the mental health sufferer of their perceptions of discrimination, and perceived stigma can significantly affect feelings of shame and lead to poorer treatment outcomes.
May is National Mental Health Awareness Month! It gives us all the opportunity to combat the negative attitudes, prejudice, and discrimination that prevent people from accessing treatment and supports and isolate people from their communities.
Use respectful language
Put the person before the illness – use phrases such as “a person with schizophrenia”. Never use terms like crazy, lunatic, psycho, retarded and correct people who do so.
Provide professional development opportunities for staff, regarding diversity, mental health issues, and fostering an inclusive work environment.
Include mental illness in discussions about acceptance of diversity, just as you would discuss cultural diversity, religious beliefs, physical disability, and sexual orientation.
Become an advocate
Create awareness by writing letters to newspapers and lawmakers. Speak out and challenge stereotypes portrayed in the media. Take it upon yourself to inform your community about the truth of mental illness.
Teach others about mental illness
Spread understanding that these are illnesses like any other.
For more information on mental health and stigma: