In May 1949, Mental Health America launched Mental Health Month to raise awareness and remind people that we can take positive actions to improve people’s lives. Learn about the negative impacts of stigma related to mental health and how we can educate others and promote change.
Understanding Stigma and Its Effects
Stigma happens when people hold negative views about a characteristic of others. These views turn into stereotypes that contribute to a lack of acceptance from others and low self-worth. These stereotypes can lead to discrimination: unjust treatment based on internal biases.
Unfortunately, mental health is one feature to which stigma is often attached. Negative remarks and avoidance of people who need or seek help are all too common. These views toward such conditions have several harmful effects, including:
- Lack of empathy from friends, family, coworkers, and others
- Fewer opportunities at work or school
- Harassment, bullying, and physical violence
- Reluctance to talk about symptoms or seek treatment
- Loss of self-confidence and hope
- Relationship difficulties
People with substance use disorders are also stigmatized. When you have both mental health issues and a substance use disorder, overcoming negative views from others and about yourself is even more challenging.
Addressing Stigma in the Community
Fighting stigma in mental health helps remove the barriers to proper treatment. Changing perceptions can help create a world where people get help rather than blame.
Promote awareness on social media and through other platforms. People with mental health conditions face a fight similar to those with medical conditions such as diabetes or heart disease. People of all races, ages, incomes, religions, and genders experience these challenges, and they deserve our compassion.
Don’t let negative comments slide by. Respond to insensitive statements and remind people that words matter. If you’re comfortable, talk openly about your personal challenges. This can be difficult, but others need to hear about your struggles. Every person who says they had no idea is someone you’re educating. Choose to fight stigma by empowering yourself.
Every workplace should prioritize employees’ well-being. More than 20% of adults in the U.S. live with a mental illness, so even a small company benefits from improving its environment for struggling people. Managers should take the lead in talking about wellness and their commitment to an accepting work environment.
Employers should be aware of and ask people about accommodations for their mental health conditions, just as they would for physical ailments. An employee with PTSD may need a partition-free work area so they can see clearly around them. Someone with the same or another condition may require a partition to feel safe.
Take Action for Mental Health Awareness Month
During Mental Health Month and beyond, spread the word that these conditions are nothing to be ashamed of. When we educate others and make societal and workplace changes to address stigma, people are more likely to seek help and live happier, healthier lives.
If you or a loved one need help for a mental health condition, substance use disorder, or both, contact the experienced, compassionate team at Pillars Recovery. We offer several types of evidence-based treatment, including a specialized Triple Diagnosis program for people with chronic pain, substance use disorder, and mental illness. Our beautiful beach settings and a full continuum of care can help you visualize and attain the life you deserve.