No one would judge you for getting care for a physical issue. If you fall and sprain your wrist, no one asks why you don’t just get over it.
They accept that certain physical things can go wrong, and you’ll need a trained professional to help you. Yet there is still a stigma around mental health.
In honor of Mental Health Day on October 12, we’d like to offer you some tips on fighting this negative stigma.
Get Proper Treatment
If you’re realizing you might have a mental health condition, your first instinct might be to deny it because you feel ashamed. It’s reasonable to feel this way. Getting the right help can be terrifying. However, it’s only going to get better if you get proper treatment.
Start with looking for some good resources, then make a few calls to weigh which might be the best option. Remember, the first step can be the hardest. It’s the only step that you have to do alone.
Talk About Your Mental Health Openly
Since there is a stigma around mental health, it can be tempting not to tell anyone about your struggles. While this mindset is understandable, it doesn’t help you or others that share the same difficulties you go through.
Not talking about your struggles can lead you to feel isolated and even more ashamed. Instead, be open about you’re going through. Tell people your story. It will help you feel like you’re no longer hiding from the truth of your mental health issues.
You should also be open about what treatments you need. You wouldn’t hide a doctor’s appointment, so why hide that you have a therapy appointment. Being open about this truth helps prevent that feeling of stigma that can come from getting help, especially if you’ve just started getting treatment.
This also will allow people to help you and support you through your mental health journey. Most people will be supportive, and you might discover they’ve been through something similar too. Being vulnerable and honest about struggles is a powerful tool.
Stand up for Others Against the Stigma Around Mental Health
If you don’t suffer from mental health issues yourself, you can still help fight the stigma around it. Be empathetic with people who are suffering and educate yourself on mental health issues.
You can also stand up for others when you hear something that adds to negative stigma. Call your friends out when they use mental health disorders as a turn of phrase. Advocate for empathy for people who might get called “crazy” in a pejorative way.
Remember that being a good ally means sticking up for people, even if it is uncomfortable.
Remember it’s a Journey
You’re not going to fight the stigma around mental health in a single day. Even in your mind, it might take a while to feel ok about it, and that’s fine.
Everyone moves at their own pace. Remember you can always talk to a therapist about ways to feel less shame around your diagnosis, and for tips on how to talk to your loved ones about it.