|Educating oneself is the key to understanding the peculiarities of mental health / Photo by Katarzyna Białasiewicz via 123RF|
The Mental Health Foundation states that society holds stereotypes and misconceptions against people with mental health problems. The organization explains that individuals with mental issues are perceived as “violent and dangerous.” Due to the stigma, people suffering from the condition may isolate themselves from society or refuse to reach out to a professional. Therefore, change must occur to create a better society for people with mental health problems.
What is Mental Health?
According to the World Health Organization, “Mental health is a state of well-being in which every individual realizes his or her own potential, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to his or her community.”
In both the old and the young, mental health is a significant aspect of a person’s welfare. The Rogers Behavioral Health posits that mental wellness is fighting against stigma and reaching out for help. It is not merely confined in recovering or being liberated from mental health conditions.
Myths Surrounding Mental Health Problems
Educating oneself is the key to understanding the peculiarities of mental health. Here are four myths surrounding mental health illnesses:
1. People with mental health problems are violent and dangerous
Mental health does not necessarily lead to violence. In fact, the root causes of violence are much more complex. The Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) asserts that people with mental health problems are “victims of violence” rather than being violent or dangerous. Further, mental health survivors are “no more violent than people without a mental illness.”
2. They are unable to handle stress
Stress is a part of life. Mental health problems are not equated to weakness or one’s inability to manage stress. CMHA mentions that mental health survivors learn stress management to cope better with stress. Stress management is self-care and a sign of strength.
3. Mental health illnesses are the problems of adults
The mental health of children and adults are something to be concerned about. Mental health problems know no age. The Mental Health Foundation reveals that 1 in 10 children suffer from mental health illnesses. Alarmingly, mental health issues affect how children learn new skills and forge relationships. Seventy percent of children do not even receive professional health consultations.
4. People cannot recover from mental health problems
It’s possible to recover from mental health problems. Professionals or counselors, support groups, and treatments are available for everyone. Individuals with mental illnesses lead successful and productive lives. For example, they can volunteer or share their skills with groups. Moreover, people with mental health problems learn to healthily cope with their symptoms.
|It is only through open conversations that mental health can be de-stigmatized and become the new norm / Photo by Mark Bowden via 123RF|
What Can Individuals Do to End the Stigma of Mental Health Problems?
Changing the status quo is not an easy feat. Change has to come from people themselves to alter the norms. Here are ways to fight for the end of mental health discrimination:
- Being Open and Open-Minded to Converse About Mental Health
National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) writer Laura Greenstein stresses that people need to be comfortable to talk about mental health. It is only through open conversations that mental health can be de-stigmatized and become the new norm.
- Spreading Awareness of Mental Health
The WHO states, “There is no health without mental health.” Mental health is as real as physical health. It is, therefore, necessary to document and share stories of people who suffer from mental health conditions, and, if possible, create an infographic that showcases the reality of mental health illnesses.
Society will not change unless everyone chooses to stand up against the status quo.
- Showing Empathy or Understanding
Mental health survivors are not making up stories or exaggerating their narrative. Living and coping with mental health conditions are difficult. Hence, try to empathize and understand what people go through from their perspective.
- Using Respectful Language
Words have the power to empower or destroy a person. It is not a great idea to associate mental health survivors with their conditions. Avoid saying “crazy,” “psychotic,” “abnormal,” and other hurtful words to describe those suffering from the condition. Do take note that the symptoms of their conditions are not within their control. Thus, casually using terms, such as “bipolar” or “OCD” disregard people who are diagnosed with such conditions. Don’t attempt to label people with mental health problems as “others.” This promotes the idea that they are different from society. Overall, everyone needs to be sensitive and understanding when talking to mental health survivors.
- Expressing Support
Showing support is a life-changing action, as it is needed to aid the person in recovery. Kind words create a lasting impact on the individual. Don’t forget to be a good listener.
Anyone can suffer from mental health conditions regardless of their age and gender. People who suffer from mental conditions constantly face societal stigma. Everyone must rise and let their voices be heard. It is time to create a cultural revolution that debunks stereotypes and highlights the significance of mental health.