Mental Health Week takes place annually from May 3-9. In honour of this important initiative, we wanted to shed light on the stigma surrounding mental illness and provide ways to both understand and reduce it.
According to MentalHealth.gov, mental health includes our emotional, psychological, and social well-being. It affects how we feel and act, it helps determine how we handle stress, make choices, and relate to others.
Three Things You Need to Understand About Mental Health Stigma
What is Stigma?
VeryWellMind explains that stigma is negative attitudes or discrimination against someone based on a distinguishing trait such as a mental illness. Research has shown that stigma is one of the leading risk factors contributing to poor mental health outcomes; it leads to delays in treatment and reduces the chances that a person with receive adequate care. (Source: VeryWellMind)
What Are Effects of Stigma?
Often, people who struggle with mental illness feel shame due to discrimination and prejudice. We’ve shared additional information from the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH):
- Stigma prevents 40% of people with anxiety or depression from seeking medical help
- Stigma affects people while they are struggling, while they are getting treatment, and while they are healing
- Stigma profoundly affects the well-being of those who experience it
- Stigma changes how people feel about themselves
How You Can Help Reduce Stigma
Helping reduce the stigma associated with mental illness takes education and understanding. We’re participating in the Canadian Mental Health Association’s Mental Health Week May 3-9 and suggest you do too!
According to the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH), here are seven things you can do to help reduce stigma.
- Evaluate your judgemental thinking and be aware of your attitudes and behaviour.
- Think about the words you use when speaking because they greatly affect others.
- Take the time to learn about mental illness – education is key.
- Understand that mental illness is only a small part of anyone so focus on the positive.
- Be inclusive of everyone and never make people who struggle with mental illness feel isolated. This is especially important in work settings.
- Support those who struggle with mental illness with dignity and respect – encouraging words go a long way.
- Be an example to others. Educate them by passing on important facts and challenge any stereotypes.