How can you help to reduce stigma
How can you help to reduce stigma associated with complex mental illness such as schizophrenia or bipolar
One out of five Australians aged 16 to 85 is living with mental illness. According to the Department of Health, stigma is one of the most common reasons people with mental illness are reluctant to seek help. Stigma also increases psychological distress, which hinders the recovery process and personal goals.
No matter the magnitude, stigma can cause harm to those targeted by it and their loved ones. But understanding all forms of stigma can help eradicate it.
“Most often, stigma comes from a lack of understanding, which also produces fear. Misleading representations of mental illnesses are contributing factors to the stigma. Cultural complexities may also prevent one from using mental health services.”, notes Karina Wolfin, DAR Fitness Rentals Director.
Three types of Stigma
Public stigma. It involved discriminatory attitudes towards individuals living with mental illness.
Self-stigma. It refers to the negative attitudes felt by people living with mental illness towards themselves, e.g., internalised shame.
Institutional stigma. It involves public and private policies that intentionally or inadvertently limit opportunities for citizens living with mental illness.
Impact of Stigma
People who are targeted by stigma may experience:
- Hesitation to seek professional treatment
- Strained relationship with family and friends
- Avoidance and isolation
- Lack of confidence
- Poor quality of life and increased socio-economic burden. Each year, 12 million days of reduced productivity result from untreated depressions.
- Increased risk of chronic diseases, such as heart disease, hypertension, diabetes, and cancer
The impact of stigma can be devastating; therefore, we should take immediate action to eliminate this.
How to Reduce Stigma for Mental Illnesses
Educate Yourself and Others
Research more about more complex mental illnesses, such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorders. Talk to experts if anything is unclear to you. Whenever you overhear an unpleasant remark about mental illness, gently intervene and enlighten the concerned parties. Share your understanding of mental illness and the impact of stigma on those who have it.
Use Words Consciously
Refrain from using any mental health condition as an adjective or a laughing matter. Here are more terms you should avoid to end the stigma.
Remind yourself and others that people living with mental illness deserve the same level of respect we give to those physical conditions.
A simple act of compassion can go a long way for anyone living with a mental health condition. Talk to them, check on them, invite them, etc. Show others that they are still part of society.
Recognise their Identity Beyond their Illness
Viewing a person based on his/her diagnosis reduces his/her complexity as a person. Before their conditions, they could be responsible parents, loving children, great artists, accomplished athletes, etc.
Share Positive Words About Mental Health
Use social media or any other channels to talk about mental health openly. Share facts, validate the information, and express your support to organisations dedicated to helping those living with mental health conditions.
Donate to support research projects aimed at finding a cure or better treatments for mental illnesses.
One In Five is a non-government, volunteer-based organisation that is unlike most charities. We are 100% dedicated to raising funds for medical research that hopes to discover cures or better treatments for mental illnesses. Visit us now to know more!