The issue with stigma and false beliefs about mental illness is that the avoidance and disregard of mental health can actually cause one’s emotional and cognitive state to worsen. It is important for everyone, with mental disorders or none, to take care of themselves in a way that promotes a healthy mentality. Things that can be practiced to promote mental health include:
- Following a schedule/routine
- Mindfulness activities (meditation, creative activities like coloring/drawing, spiritual/religious practices)
- Taking care of physical self (diet, exercise)
- Mental health education (professionally or research)
- Counseling and communication
The more people that acknowledge and take care of their mental well-being, the less stigma and lack of understanding will prevent those who need help from seeking treatment. The important thing to remember if you are struggling with low mental health and are influenced by stigma, is that mental illness or disorders do not define you. Someone’s identity is formed by who they choose to be and what one believes, not by demographics.
You might be wondering, what can we do to reduce stigma around us? The most important thing to do is to talk about it. Normalizing mental health awareness ultimately comes down to educating those who lack understanding. If you have sought treatment for mental illness or simply made efforts to improve and have success, tell someone!
Openly talking about mental health can be uncomfortable for you or others, but the key to growth is getting out of a comfort zone. Encourage others to do research and become aware of their own mental states. Share your experiences and ask questions about theirs; you might be surprised and see someone change their perspective!