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How To Reduce The Horrific Stigma Surrounding Mental Illness


How To Reduce The Horrific Stigma Surrounding Mental Illness

  • Mental Health

Despite mental health becoming a prominent part of conversation in modern society, the stigma of being one of the millions of people with a mental health illness still stands strong.

Americans with mental illnesses fight their battles on two fronts — struggling with the symptoms of the diagnosis as well as the stereotypes surrounding mental health. Nearly 1 in 5 U.S. adults live with a mental illness. In fact, the numbers are rising annually — in 2018, 19% of American adults experienced a mental illness, an increase of 1.5 million people over the previous year.

If so many Americans are struggling with short-term or long-term mental illnesses every day, what is the current stigma surrounding mental illness?

Why Is There a Stigma Associated with Mental Illness?

Often, stigma stems simply from a lack of understanding or fear of mental illnesses. There are 3 basic types of stigma around mental health: public stigma, self stigma, and institutional stigma.

Public stigma revolves around the negative thoughts the general public has about mental illness. This can range from calling someone “crazy” who is mumbling to themselves on the subway to staying clear of acquaintances you know are in therapy.

Self stigma involves the shame and negative thoughts mentally ill people think about themselves. These ideas are cultivated through public stigma and institutional stigma.

Institutional stigma includes mental health not being covered by many insurance companies or policies that limit opportunities for those with diagnosed mental illnesses. Media representation, from news media to television and movies, also often paints a negative picture of Americans struggling with mental health.

Different cultures also have varied relationships with mental health and its stigma.

According to a Columbia University study, Black adults are 20% more likely to have mental health problems than white adults, including major depressive disorder or generalized anxiety disorder. However, Black young adults between 18 and 25 are also less likely to seek therapeutic services than white young adults.

Similarly, many members of the LGBTQ community also struggle with mental health. About 4.5% of the U.S. population identifies a lesbian, gay, or bisexual. Of that group, more than 39% reported struggling with their mental health in 2018. That’s about 5.8 million Americans, or more than the entire population of Kentucky. Unfortunately, much of the queer community also doesn’t feel safe confiding in mental health experts because of the double stigma of mental illness and being gay.

How to Reduce the Stigma of Mental Illness

Talking openly and honestly about the truths of mental health is the easiest way to fight the stigma of mental illness every day. Being truthful in safe spaces about personal journeys is a great first step.

Social media isn’t always good for mental health. However, many celebrities have recently been more open with their own struggles, both humanizing them and opening the eyes of their fans to the fact that mental illness can affect anyone.

counselor and young person

The Internet and social media also let regular citizens interact with the media. If you see something on tv or in a movie that reinforces negative stereotypes of mentally ill people, write to the production company. Or if a friend or family member uses a diagnosis to describe a negative action or calls something “insane,” remind them of the stigma that comes with their word choices.

While people are often open with physical health struggles, like cancer or a broken bone, many hide mental health struggles. Encouraging an equality between physical illnesses and mental illnesses can also help break the stigma.

Another easy step for those not affected by mental health issues is to show compassion and support for those who are. When you learn a friend or family member is struggling with mental health, don’t dismiss their concerns or make them feel different. Instead, offer support, whether it’s researching treatment options, offering an ear to listen, or just a shoulder to cry on when things go wrong.

Contact Us

When it comes to mental health, no one can fight an uphill battle alone. If you’re struggling with depression, anxiety, or any mood disorder, we’re here to help.

Contact us today to set up an appointment and help stop the stigma of being “too strong” to need help.

When you think of the well-being of a child, you first think of basic needs: food, water, and shelter. Once these needs are met, however, it’s crucial for a child to have emotional and social wellness as well. In this article, we will explore the impact social wellness has on the overall health of a child and great ways for children to garner social support in their lives.

It comes as no surprise that as human beings, we all need connection with others, no matter what stage of life we are in. In fact, having social support is a social determinant of health (SDOH) that significantly impacts the health of an individual. After spending the last few years in and out of isolation due to the Covid-19 outbreak, social support is more important now than ever before. Having social support means having family members and friends you can talk to and seek advice from when life feels challenging and overwhelming. Knowing you’re not alone in your life journey, especially as a child, creates a sense of belonging and empowerment throughout one’s life.

4 Types of Social Support

Emotional Support. This type of support lets you know that people care about you and have empathy for your experiences. Emotional support often looks like people checking in on you to let you know they’re thinking of you, and that they are there if you need anything. As a parent, make sure your child knows you can be a sounding board for them. If you have family members who can also show up for your children in this way, even better!

Practical Help. This type of support is when people give you something tangible or offer a service to help you out. This could be in the form of money, making food when you are sick, or helping to pack when moving. Having family and friends show up in this way shows your child what it looks like to be present for people you love.

Sharing Points of View. This type of support can often come in the form of affirmations and encouragement. For example, pointing out your child’s strengths to them and reminding them they can do anything they put their mind to. It can also look like sharing another perspective if they are being hard on themselves. For example, if they are angry with themselves after receiving a bad grade on a test, you can help them see it as a learning experience and a way for them to grow.

Sharing Information. This type of support is when someone shares what they’ve learned from their own life experiences. For example, if another parent has a child who struggles with socializing, they can share some tips and tricks they’ve learned to help their child find and create social support.

The Importance of Social Groups and Extended Support

Children who are connected to their family, friends, and people in their community have opportunities to learn how to speak, share, and get along with others. When your child feels connected to people in your neighborhood, it often allows them to feel physically safe which can alleviate stress and worry. Simply riding bikes, going on walks, and saying hello to neighbors with your kids can create this sense of security for them.

In addition to engaging with your neighbors, getting involved in local organizations can also create social support for your child. Signing up for a sports team, musical theater, art class or summer camp are all great ways to help your child meet new friends and learn important social skills that can carry them through their lives.

Tips for Helping Kids Make Community Connections:

Spend time outside in your neighborhood playing on the playground, going to a local farmer’s market, or scheduling a playdate with neighborhood kids.

Show your kids that connection is a two-way street. If your neighbors or friends go out of town, offer to get their mail, or water their plants and take your child with you when you go. This will show your child how you show up for people you care about.

Make sure you make time for socializing with friends as well. Your child looks to you first and foremost for how they should act and live their own life.

Encourage your child to step out of their comfort zone and do something they may be scared to do. As a parent, it’s your job to push them into something social for their own well-being at times.