I am not a stranger to the topic of mental health, but one piece I haven’t really touched on is the stigma that is greatly associated with it. They practically go hand in hand unfortunately. Whether or not you have a mental health issue or not does not affect your ability to fight against stigma.
Identify Where Stigma Is Coming From
Stigma can come from many places, but it can be overall summarized into two categorizes of social stigma and internalized stigma. Social stigma comes from society, from family, friends, colleagues, the overall society, etc. This one is the easiest to spot, because it involves some way to communicate stigma through communication. Internalized stigma is stigma that comes out from within someone, usually someone who has a mental health issue. This can be thinking their issue isn’t valid or not worth fussing over. If you see stigma, find out where it’s coming from so you know where to fight it.
Call Out Your Personal Stigma and Make a Change
Stigma is like privilege, we don’t necessarily see it right away until it get’s called out. Also like privilege, we need to be aware and spot stigma when it’s come out of us. When you catch yourself using stigma, recognize it as such and change it.
Do Research on Mental Health
It’s not really fair to judge someone when you don’t understand their situation. This goes for both people without mental health issues and those with them, because not every issue is the same. Example, I don’t know much of anything about eating disorders or schizophrenia, so I shouldn’t make statements or assumptions about people with those issues. When you do research, it well help you understand all issues and even more about stigma, which will better benefit the fight.
Participate in an Awareness Event
Awareness events bring in so many different people, including those who have mental health issues, those who have a loved one that does, and those who don’t have either but care. It can change your perspective, and is a relatively stigma free zone so people stand out so much when they bring in stigma. Plus it’s a safe place for questions and conversation.
Walk a Mile in Someone Else’s Shoes
I know it’s cheesy, but think about it. If you had to go around and get told that you health is invalid or over exaggerated or internally believe those things, it would be awful. It’s another method of getting perspective, but can also encourage you to speak up when you see stigma at work. If you wouldn’t want it to happen to you, don’t let it happen to others.
Talk About It
Conversation and communication are powerful for a reason: because they can provoke change. In order to really fight something, we need to talk about it publicly, as I am doing with this blog post. Use the research you did and the experience you had at that event and enlighten someone else with your new knowledge.
How will you fight mental health stigma? Let me know below!