End the Stigma
Working together we can end the stigma and discrimination surrounding mental illness. It starts with understanding.
First, we must recognize that mental illness is just that—an illness. Like most diseases of the body, mental illness has many causes – from genetics to other biological, environmental and social / cultural factors. And those who suffer from a mental illness are not mentally deficient; they just have an illness that hinders their ability to function normally in a certain part of the brain.
One in four Americans live with a mental disorder and estimates indicate that nearly two-thirds of all people with a diagnosable mental illness do not seek treatment. But when shame is removed from the equation, people with mental illness will more readily seek treatment, achieve recovery and engage in meaningful activities.
Physical illness is just part of life. People get diagnosed with an illness, seek treatment and most of the time, they get better. But those living with a mental illness are seen as untreatable – or worse. They often have to hide their illnesses from people, sometimes even their own family members. The stigma they live with is the largest obstacle to recovery, treatment and societal acceptance for people living with mental illness.
What Can You Do?
Be Mindful of Your Words
Using words like “psycho” or “nut” may be hurtful.
Myths exist about mental illness that contribute to stigma. Learn the facts.
Small acts of kindness speak volumes. Don’t stand by if someone is being labeled or bullied. Treat a person who has a mental illness with kindness through a friendly smile or a helping hand.
Sometimes a person suffering from a mental illness just needs someone to listen.
Talk About It
Mental illness touches all of us in some way whether directly or indirectly. So break the silence and start a dialogue. A good place to start is OkaytoSay.org.
Support mental health and anti-stigma programs like Mental Health America of Texas. Donate today.