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Breaking Down the Stigma Surrounding Mental Health

While the stigma around mental health is being faced now more than ever, the issue is still very evident. More than half of people who struggle with mental health don’t receive help for their disorders. Considering that one in five US adults struggles with mental health (52.9 million people), this is despairing. So, why don’t we talk about mental health more often? Especially if it’s a common struggle?

There are numerous reasons people don’t come forward about their struggles. Some people don’t want to seem weak, they don’t want to be looked at differently, or they are scared to lose their job and livelihood. Stigma and discrimination against people who struggle with mental health is still a very huge problem around the world. More often than not, people are told they are faking it or their problem “isn’t that bad” when they come forward about their fight with mental health. I think that this is something we all need to be aware of. The stigma of “it's not that bad” or “people have worse problems” is very damaging. Someone told me once that a person could be drowning in 10 feet of water and another could be drowning in 50 feet of water, but regardless of the depth if the person can’t touch the bottom they can both drown. This helped me to gain perspective on mental health. No matter how small someone's struggles might seem, it doesn’t make it any less important.

There are many types of stigma associated with mental health. These include:

Public Stigma: this is the negative attitudes and discriminatory behaviors by others (the public) about mental health

Self Stigma: this is the negative attitudes we have towards ourselves about our own struggles, which includes internalized shame

Institutional Stigma: this involves policies of government and private organizations that intentionally or unintentionally limit resources and opportunities for people with mental illness

Society stigmatizes mental health/ mental illness and in doing so, they hurt people who struggle. The stigma surrounding mental health needs to be talked about and actively fought against. If you or anyone you know is battling mental health, please reach out and open these conversations within your family and friendships. If this is not something that's comfortable for you, the national suicide hotline is 800-273-8255. We can all work towards opening conversations about mental health and being more empathetic and understanding to those who do struggle, so we can break the stigma.

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