By Marli Naidoo
The stigma surrounding mental health has subsided considerably over the past decade. This decline is not happening fast enough, however. Most people struggling with mental problems have already run into misconceptions regarding psychology; that they should only be positive and their problems will go away; that it is only a phase; and that they can control it if they only try hard enough.
This stigmatisation makes people feel ashamed about their problems so that they are not exactly willing to get help.
It is essential for parents to start teaching their children about mental health from a young age. The idea is not only to make them feel comfortable about seeing a counsellor or psychologist, but also to teach them how to handle people who are struggling with mental health.
It has been found that young people with depression prefer to watch videos about people who face the same challenges. Media is a very powerful force that makes people feel comfortable. A video on the internet does not make them feel condemned. Families can watch videos where people with mental illnesses explain their condition.
Put mental health on the same level as physical health. Neither of them is more important than the other. When we begin to see mental illness as a disease we will not want to make fun of it. You will not poke fun at or avoid a person with diabetes or cancer. Talk about the symptoms of physical and psychological illnesses.
Be more open about your mental health. Do not be ashamed to admit that you are on your way to your appointment with a therapist or psychiatrist.
If you see discrimination against people with mental illnesses on TV, you dare not keep quiet. Phone the broadcaster and address it.
Sharing personal experiences is a powerful way of changing attitudes. By giving mental illness a face and demonstrating that it could happen to anybody one inspires others to be open about their problems.
I does not matter how you contribute to the mental health movement, you can make a difference simply by knowing that mental illness is nobody’s fault, no matter what the social stigma has to say about it.
American Psychiatric Association: https://www.psychiatry.org/patients-families/stigma-and-discrimination