May is Mental Health Month. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), 1 in 5 adults in the United States experience mental illness in a given year. 1 in 5 youth aged children (13-18) also experience a severe mental disorder at some point during their life while 13 percent of children ages 8-15 experience mental health issues. With such a large population of the country fighting some form of mental illness, it’s surprising to see the stigma that still surrounds mental health discussion. NAMI reached out and asked the population this simple question, “what is the best way to end stigma?” Continue reading to hear some of the most popular responses they received.
- Talk openly about your mental health. The stigma won’t go away if no one brings it up, right? Swallow all fears of judgment and start the conversation. Chances are you’ll come across more people than you thought who not only understand, but are also going through similar struggles.
- Educate yourself and others. Know more about your condition and do your research. The more you know, the more you’ll be able to normalize and spread the word about mental health issues. Inspire others to educate themselves on the importance of mental health as well.
- Show empathy and compassion. If someone with a mental health condition opens up to you about his or her struggles, be understanding. Remain respectful and try to refrain from judging them in a negative way.
- See the person, not the illness. Don’t let someone’s mental health condition blind you from who they are behind the illness. Understand that along with the mental illness, he or she has a personality as unique as your own. Most likely, they won’t want you to focus on their mental health condition; focus instead on who they are as a person.
- Advocate for mental health reform. Though starting the conversation is a huge part of ending the stigma, go a step further and be an advocate for mental health reform. Research ways in which you can empower those who suffer from a mental health condition and their loved ones.
To read more ways to fight mental health stigma, check out NAMI’s website here. If you or a loved one are interested in learning more about mental health research at ACMR, call to inquire about our ongoing studies or check out our volunteer page here. ACMR conducts clinical research on mental health conditions such as bipolar disorder, depression, schizophrenia, and more!