In recent years, the topic of mental health has been just about everywhere: in conversations, on billboards, and even dedicated episodes on our favourite TV shows. This prominence has started a shift in the conversation -- one that needs to happen. For far too long, stigma has kept the advancement of mental health initiatives in the dark. In this blog post, we will bring that stigma into the light: what it is, the effects it has, and ways to challenge and overcome it so we can have better conversations about mental health.
Understanding Mental Health Stigma
Mental health stigma is rooted in misconceptions and stereotypes. Whether you have been dealing with mental health concerns, know someone who has, or simply have a general idea of what symptoms might look like, what’s clear is they are not as visible as many physical injuries. As a result, many people misunderstand and look down on those suffering. This idea of “the unknown” creates stigma.
The Consequences of Stigma
Stigma itself is bad enough, but the repercussions it can force people to feel shame about their condition and silenced from speaking about it. Diminished self-esteem, social isolation, and a unwillingness to seek treatment are just some of the consequences. That’s why it’s important to shed light on this issue by dispelling misconceptions and taking apart stereotypes.
Challenging Mental Health Stigma
Changing the stigma around anything is hard, let alone mental health. But, looking at how it is presented in our daily lives is a good place to start. Try self-education through internet research and spreading awareness in your circles where possible. Recognizing everyone’s shared humanity also helps avoid stigmatization.
Keep in mind that mental health stigma is about more than myth-busting; creating a supportive and inclusive environment where everyone feels comfortable seeking help demonstrates real change. Don’t be afraid to break down barriers, have open conversations, and learn about mental health resources to build an inclusive space, especially with your loved ones.
Encouraging Open Conversations
Ever had a chat about something serious with someone close to you that was judgement-free and uplifting? That’s an open conversation. These conversations could revolve around struggles, information sharing, or simply expressing acceptance. Showing you are interested in non-judgmental discussions on mental health means you can create a space where people are free to share their experiences.
Promoting Empathy and Understanding
Empathy is one of the most powerful abilities we can have. Understanding and sharing another person's emotions offers them a blanket of compassion, which may not be something those dealing with mental health challenges are used to. Your support is invaluable and can act as a pillar for a more empathetic and compassionate environment for those around you.
Resources and Support
At JFS, we strive to help make mental health stigma a thing of the past. Should you need support, our mental health and counselling services are backed by a team of compassionate professionals ready to listen. Contact us today to get started on a path to bettering yourself and those around you.