Mind Alive Blog
Wednesday, March 16, 2011
3 Bigs Ways and 5 small ways to Help Reduce Mental Health Stigma
Mental Health issues affect about one in five people – over six and a half million Canadians – experience a mental disorder during their lifetime. Unfortunately, many people don’t ask for help because they feel ashamed or scared. People may judge them and treat them negatively based on a mental health problem. Others
have trouble finding a place to live, finding a job, maintaining relationships and other important parts of life. In fact, most people living with a mental disorder say that stigma is worse than the symptoms they feel. Below are some ways we can make difference.
1. Promote direct personal contact:
Meeting and interacting with people with mental health problems is one of the best ways to improve attitudes and behaviours. This works best when the people meeting each other have equal status, when there can be discussion, and when the presenters with personal experiences can counter major myths. Education efforts like this fact sheet can help us understand the challenges, but they don’t change attitudes.
2. Help people be heard:
We need to encourage and empower people with experiences of mental health problems to be leaders in any efforts, such as anti-stigma programs and research. This includes supporting people and connecting them with peers. When people relate to each other’s struggles and want to see changes, they’re more likely to share their stories and protest when they see injustice.
3. Help media be a force for good:
Media like TV, movies, newspapers and web sites influence how we see others. Media should be encouraged to show people for who they really are – capable and productive community members. Hearing the direct voice of people with mental health problems through the media can be incredibly powerful. And we need to challenge media that discriminates against a
group of people.
Five small ways I can make a difference:
1. Tell someone who doesn’t know my story of mental health problems, or help others tell their story.
2. Seek direct contact by volunteering for a mental health organization, or find personal stories of recovery.
3. Think about the words I use. Do I use people-centered language like, “A person living with...” or do I say, “A
schizophrenic” or, “A depressive?”
4. Think about how I personally support and treat people around me who are living with a mental
5. Speak up when I see discrimination or when I see a law or policy that unfairly excludes people.
Taken from The Canadian Mental Health Association Fact sheet
Labels: Mental health, Stigma
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Although there has been improvement in recent years, there is still a stigma linked with mental illness. A stigma is a persistently negative view or attitude attached to a particular set of events, qualities, or persons. Stigma around mental illness may lead to persistent misconceptions or damaging stereotypes, the avoidance or isolation of those who suffer from it, and the potential for someone to put off getting the care and assistance they require.
Try reorienting your thoughts to question what happened to a person rather than what is wrong with them. This change takes into account how a person's experiences and circumstances—many of which may be beyond their control—affect their health, actions, and perspective. Additionally, it eliminates any implied guilt for their disease or judgment regarding how they would be diagnosed. Be accepting of the thought that someone may have lived their life in a different way than you, rather than underestimating their suffering.
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