Mental health problems—and the stigma around them—are often seen as taboo. But you can destigmatize mental health by understanding where stigma comes from and challenging negative attitudes in others and yourself!
Here are some ways you can destigmatize mental health:
Try to understand where stigma comes from
By educating yourself and others about mental health, you can begin to reduce stigma. Stigma is rooted in ignorance, fear, and misunderstanding. Education can change it.
When people understand that having a mental illness does not make someone “crazy” or dangerous, they will be less likely to fear those with mental health problems.
Find ways to challenge negative attitudes in others + yourself
If discussing mental health with others makes you uncomfortable, start by challenging your prejudices and assumptions. If you believe people with mental illnesses are dangerous or scary, consider that the media and others’ opinions may have influenced yours.
You can challenge stigma in your daily life by looking at the world differently. When you hear someone say they feel “crazy” because they missed a deadline at work, point out the word choice and ask them what they mean by it. It may be awkward, but if everyone does it enough, it won't seem as weird for people to question why we stigmatize one another based on our differences.
Don't shy away from conversations about mental health problems.
I know it can be scary to talk about mental health issues. You might worry about people judging you or saying mean things. But, in my experience, that's rarely the case!
People are usually more understanding than you think, but if they're not, it's better to know their true feelings sooner rather than later.
If someone makes fun of you for your mental health problem or acts like an ass, don't let that stop you from being yourself and speaking up about what's happening inside your head. We do not care about the opinions of people we wouldn’t ask advice from, ohKAY?!
You can destigmatize mental health by combatting stigma where you see it.
Stigma is a form of discrimination and comes from many sources. People diagnosed with mental illnesses get bad-mouthed by others, who may think they are dangerous or crazy. Be a part of the solution and speak up if you see this online or IRL.
Sometimes even family members discriminate against a relative because they’ve been diagnosed with a disorder. That can lead to ostracizing the individual from their community and support system, which leads to more isolation and depression as well as other forms of mental illness like self-harm and addiction.
By taking steps to destigmatize mental health, you can help yourself and others feel more comfortable discussing problems and getting help. The more we all talk about mental health, the more normal it will become.