It does not matter if you have or do not have a mental disorder, stigma affects us all! Mental health is a hot topic right now, and it has never been more important to work as a community to reduce stigma. It is time we open up the mental health conversation on our terms this time! Here are 9 ways to reduce stigma…
1. Knowledge is power.
Read up about mental health. The information is easy to find. Ask yourself, What is a mental illness? What types of mental illness are there? What are the symptoms? Why is it referred to as a “mental illness?”
2. Be active on online media platforms.
On Twitter, Instagram and/or Facebook post positive articles, blogs, quotes, and/or images that relate to mental health. Stay away from going on a wild political rant. This can be a major turn off. You want to encourage the conversation, not diminish it.
3. Get people involved.
Bring your friends along with you to events or volunteer opportunities. It gives a different image of mental health than what they may have originally thought.
4. Develop your own opinion.
You do not want to sound “memorized” when talking about mental health to other people. Take the information you have gathered, and form your own personal opinion. What ideas will you share with the public?
5. Be confident, cool & collected.
It is nerve-wrecking to talk to people about mental health. This should not stop you from being vocal. You do not have to be aggressive. Be calm and collected when expressing your views to others.
6. Get people talking.
Casually introduce the topic of mental health in a social conversation with friends or family. Hey, did you know that Demi Lovato is diagnosed with Bipolar II? Get the conversation rolling and get people talking. You might be surprised how interested people are by the topic.
7. Focus on the positive.
There are many successful, and incredibly gifted people with mental disorders in society. However, this is not what is heard or seen in the media. Discuss mental health with a positive attitude. People are more willing to listen, and engage in the conversation.
8. Reveal the parts of you that contradict stigma.
It is important to reveal things about yourself, or someone else, that conflict with what “stigma says.” Mental illness does not define you, or anyone else. You want people to embrace your character before acknowledging your disorder. This encourages people to question what they hear in the media about mental health.
9. Share your story, only if you are comfortable with it.
This is not for everyone. It is not easy to be open about mental illness, and due to the stigma, there are consequences. Your story established a personal connection with readers, and shows the impact of stigma and labels. If you want to share your story, I will be creating a page in the following weeks on my blog, “Your Story.” The guidelines will be listed, and I would love to help you on your journey to sharing your story.