Talking about mental health in a healthy way is something that societies across the globe have historically struggled with. However, with the increasing rate of mental disorders across the globe, it has become essential to bridge the difference between mental and physical health problems by understanding the risk factors and repercussions of mental disorders. It is time that people come together to dissipate the stigma associated with mental problems.
Those spared from the afflictions of a psychiatric illness may not comprehend the impact of their actions or the dangerous outlook perpetuated by them on referring someone as “schizophrenic,” “deranged” or “demented.” However, it does not change the fact that stigma and perceptions related to mental health problems quintessentially criminalizes people suffering from the problem.
Effective ways of fighting mental health stigma
When such false beliefs inflame stigmatizing attitudes, regardless of the form, they significantly affect the emotional and social life of individuals suffering from mental disorders. This not only lengthens their recovery process, but also prevents them from talking about their problems and seeking medical help. Therefore, it is crucial to fight mental stigma and here are some ways that can help change people’s outlook.
Refrain from making it a taboo: Talking openly about mental health problems creates a platform where people can honestly discuss their struggles with mental disorders. This provides an opportunity to convey to those suffering in silence that they are not alone and that help is available.
Stay informed and spread awareness: When someone misrepresents mental illnesses, most people prefer looking the other way or staying silent. However, to reduce the brunt of the stigma, it is important to express how such beliefs affect a person and the need to spread awareness.
Avoid using stigmatizing language: The human language is continually changing and evolving and so have the applications of words, such as “insane,” “nuts,” and “mental” when referred to someone with a mental illness. Unfortunately, portraying mental illnesses through adjectives labels the individual and does no good in improving the situation.
Treat mental and physical disorders equally: Just like physical diseases, mental illnesses are brain disorders that can develop in anybody. The need of the hour is to treat mental disorders like other chronic illnesses, such as diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, etc., to ensure effective treatment.
Choose not to be a victim: Stigmatization leads to discrimination and oppression of people with mental disorders. However, it is also possible to lead a life very different from the decadent view of mental disorders by simply honoring one’s choice to lead an empowered life by seeking treatment.
Need to alert media: The depiction of mental health issues by the media has so far been like a double-edged sword. Many a times, they’ve helped spread public awareness about mental health, yet at times they’ve also inaccurately portrayed mental illnesses. Therefore, it is important to alert media platforms about the ill effects of using stigmatizing language as both their media coverage and the consequences of wrongfully addressing mental health issues are far-reaching.
Talk about treatment and recovery: An uninformed and ignorant person may harbor apprehensions about mental health treatment. He or she may fear being judged as a weak person on visiting a psychiatrist or taking medications. When people who have recovered from their problems through medical interventions talk about their recovery, they have an opportunity to inform others. At the end, seeking treatment for mental disorders does not make a person weak. In fact, it represents his or her courage and will to get better.
Fight mental health stigma
Mental health stigma can affect various aspects of one’s life. At its worst, it can lead to self-criticism wherein the person blames himself or herself for his or her condition. In such cases, stigmatization becomes an active ongoing risk factor for the disorder that prevents an individual from seeking the required help from others.