KNOW THAT YOU CAN START LATE, LOOK DIFFERENT, BE UNCERTAIN, AND STILL SUCCEED.
When you think of May you don’t really think of mental health, yet it truly is the “Best” month to bring awareness to the subject of Mental Health. May is “Mental Health Awareness Month”, as it is also Spring, a time for new beginnings with the new blooms and a freshness in the air. The 2018 theme that “NAMI” is bringing awareness to is: “CureStigma”.
What is Stigma? By definition, it is a mark of disgrace or infamy; a stain or reproach, as on one’s reputation.
For someone who is going through a mental health condition like anxiety, stress, or depression, it can already be difficult and isolating. But when our close friends, family, co-workers, and so much of the people we come in contact with have an opinion about people with mental health conditions, in most cases it is a negative opinion, so the stigma remains. That those people living with a mental health condition has something unsatisfactory about them. This is not the situation, mental health is something that is wrong with these individuals, they just need more time at processing life, and as a community, we have to educate ourselves, be supportive, and allow friends, family, co-workers, and even strangers know that we are here for them.
Four ways you can help Cure Stigma:
- Become Knowledgeable:
It is scary when we don’t know or understand a topic fully, which can lead to us being judgmental, based on upon past experiences, or to allow outside influences to navigate our opinions. So when educating yourself, try to keep an open mind, ask questions, or visit online sites. Then share with others on what you have learned, and try applying what you’ve learned about mental health into your daily life or with someone you know that can use the support.
2. Be a Good Listener and Learn to look for signs/triggers:
In our busy schedules it may be easy to brush off the other persons feelings, but being a good listener is the exact opposite, you have to STOPand not listen to respond, but LISTEN to understand, and empathize with the person struggling with mental health.
3. Express your Concern, Love, Compassion, and Support:
Mental Health, as I mentioned is isolating, and knowing that you have their back will truly make a difference. Ask how you can help if you see them struggling, check-in regularly with them, or try to find a subject you both can relate too; reminding them that you also go through difficult times, and that you can offer some coping skills, if you may have any.
4. Seek Professional Help:
Sometimes, your support alone may not be enough, so know that you can seek professional help for your loved ones. Speak with them about it and let them know that you want to be there for them, but you are not equipped with the skills they might need at that moment.
The stigma associated with mental health has always been prevalent in my cultural upbringing but I couldn’t help but challenge that idea because I knew deep down inside that it didn’t feel right. Plus I could see how much my family could have benefited from some help but thought “we don’t seek counseling” because in their mind there was nothing wrong with them. They carried the stigma with them that if they admitted that they had a mental health condition then something would be wrong with them. This is the same stigma that many of us carry with us that is preventing ourselves or others to be open about mental health. Can I say that I have changed the mind of all my family members, yes, some have sought help and see the benefits while some still struggle with their mental health. With just a small feeling I kept at it and I was able to educate my family a little more on their own mental health and how beneficial it is to maintain. It is never to late to join the mental health community, check out the links below for more information on how you can help too.
Thank you for reading! Please leave me a comment if this post helps you or on what other ways you might know of that help “CureStigma“. I’ll be posting every Sunday for the month of May a new topic related to Mental Health, please follow to stay updated with this series.