Re: [CHAT] Tackling mental health stigma in everyday life
My entire life can be described in one sentence: It didn't go as planned and that's okay. ツ
Re: [CHAT] Tackling mental health stigma in everyday life
Alrighty! What did we learn tonight?
Mental health 101
We’ve decided to do some mythbusting with some common mental health statements. Can you find out the differences between fact and fiction?
"Only certain people are prone to get a mental illness": fact or fiction?
> Myth! Anyone can develop a mental illness.
"Mental health issues are common"
> Fact! 1 in 4 young people experience a MH issue.
"Most people who have a mental illness will recover"
> Fact! Most mental illnesses can be treated effectively and most people who experience mental illness recover.
"Depression is the most common mental illness among young people in Australia"
> Myth! Anxiety disorders are the most common, affecting 15% of young people, followed by Substance Use disorders at 13%. Around 6% of young people had an Affective disorder with Bipolar Affective Disorder and Depression (3% each) the most common Affective disorders.
Some of us did get a bit stuck with one or two of these, but we did all agree that it’s a good learning experience. Learning new stuff about mental health everyday!
You + Stigma: The effects
Stigma is excluding others out of fear, particularly fear of the unknown. People do have some misconceptions about mental illness and those who do have MH issues are under great duress to hide it. Stigma may involve applying negative labels (e.g. name calling) on someone with a mental illness, which comes from stereotypes and prejudice. It has a great impact on people’s lives, whether it’s at uni, school or in the workplace. It doesn’t help them feel great about themselves and hide away, being afraid of a negative reaction. It can prevent them from reaching out for help and support. We all agree that to have MH issue and going through some tough times is not something to be ashamed of. What’s also fantastic is that we think that stigma is just crap!
Reaching out: how does stigma prevent us from getting help?
There are many forms of stigma out there and at times, this can prevent us from getting help. It can occur in school, uni or in the workplace, and it can even happen within cultural communities. It seems our peers can judge a great deal, especially with some skewed perceptions about mental illness. Some people see it as a weakness (e.g. in rural areas or being a young male) and this can cause a person to never seek help, just to save face. But what we’ve learnt is that if we want to tell someone about it, we can, but we can also keep it to ourselves as it’s nobody’s business. It is very possible to have some MH issues, still get where you want to be and pursue your dreams!
Everyday community battles: what can you do?
Education is the frontliner in making our communities more inclusive. Not only does this challenge stigma, but it also allows us to host some fun events. Whether this is doing fundraising awareness events or campaigns like Mental Health Week, there are many ways to educate your fellow students, colleagues and neighbours in your community! It really helps to have others gain a greater understanding of mental illnesses for sure. Don’t let the haters get you down!
Challenging stigma and advice
Some great steps in challenging mental health stigma and giving advice to someone you care about are:
1. Don’t pretend to agree with things that you don’t agree with
2. Educating yourself on as much as you possible can to support someone
3. Seek support yourself if you feel like you need it
4. Have an honest conversation with them about it
5. Focus on listening, not talking
6. Be respectful and non-judgemental
7. Ask how you can help, but don’t assume what they need
8. Tell them that you’re there for them and that you care too
Media: reducing and increasing stigma
The media does play an important role in how mental illness is portrayed as well as in reducing or increasing stigma. When you see media play into stereotypes, you can complain about it! Nothing more satisfying than learning the facts and calling them on it! SANE Australia and the Australian Communication and Media Authority handle complaints in regards to these issues. You can also complain to the station or call them out on social media. There’s also writing letters to the editor, Media Watch and the Advertising Standards Bureau.
Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can certainly be offensive and hurtful. There are some terrible words out there that some people use to mock, insult and hurt others who have a mental illness. It is important to point out that certain words are not ok and be safe while doing so. It really does depend on the context of the situation. Being firm in your stance and telling them directly is an example of one approach that you can use. Ignoring them and removing yourself from the situation is also another way of dealing with them.
This week: Reducing stigma
Having conversations about mental health, participating in ABC’s Mental As, promoting Mental Health Week and calling out on mental health stigma are some things that you can do this week in your life to reduce MH stigma!
Want to know more about mental health?
Want to find help and support for yourself, a friend or loved one?
- Kids Helpline
- Suicide Callback Service
- There's also us here on ReachOut!
It was awesome chatting to you all about mental health stigma, how to educate others and reduce it!
Hope that you all learnt lots! Have a good night and keep reaching out!
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