MHAM: 9 Ways To Fight Mental Health Stigma

Most people who live with mental illness have, at some point, been blamed for their condition. They’ve been called names. Their symptoms have been referred to as “a phase” or something they can control “if they only tried.” They have been illegally discriminated against, with no justice. This is the unwieldy power that stigma holds.

Stigma causes people to feel ashamed for something that is out of their control. Worst of all, stigma prevents people from seeking the help they need. For a group of people who already carry such a heavy burden, stigma is an unacceptable addition to their pain. And while it has reduced in recent years, the pace of progress has not been quick enough.

Every day, in every possible way, we need to stand up to stigma. If you’re not sure how, here are nine ways you can fight stigma:

  • Talk Openly About Mental Health
  • Educate Yourself And Others
  • Be Conscious Of Language
  • Encourage Equality Between Physical And Mental Illness
  • Show Compassion For Those With Mental Illness
  • Choose Empowerment Over Shame
  • Be Honest About Treatment
  • Let The Media Know When They’re Being Stigmatizing
  • Don’t Harbor Self-Stigma

You can read more here, then make a commitment to fight stigma.

If you or someone you know is struggling with depression or mental stress, text ‘Start’ to the Crisis Text Line at 741-741. It’s free, confidential; and someone is available to talk to you 24/7. You can visit their website www.crisistextline.org for more information.

You can also call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (800-273-8255).

Or you can contact the National Alliance on Mental Illness (800-950-6264) for support and local referrals.

You can also go to Mental Health America to find a support group in your area.

#MentalHealthAwarenessMonth #MHAM #MentalHealth #MentalWellness #YouAreNotAlone #HopeForToday

 

MHAM: What if Someone Talks to You About Their Mental Health?

What if someone talks to you about their mental health? Do you know what to do or say? Or how to follow up with them?

  • Listen. Let them finish their sentences and complete thoughts without interrupting. After they have finished you can respond.
  • Let them know if you understand. If someone has just spilled their guts and and you’ve gone through something similar—tell them. It helps a lot for someone to know they aren’t alone. Make sure you don’t switch the topic of conversation to your struggles though; focus on their needs.
  • Avoid being judgmental. Don’t tell them they are being weird or crazy; it’s not helpful at all.
  • Take them seriously. Try not to respond with statements that minimize how they are feeling or what they are going through, such as, “You’re just having a bad week,” or “I’m sure it’s nothing.”
  • Make yourself available to talk again if needed. While it can be a big relief for someone to share something they have been keeping secret, mental health struggles usually aren’t solved with one conversation.  Let the person who has spoken with you know that they can reach out to you again if they are having a tough time. It’s ok to let them know if there is a time of day or certain days of the week that you aren’t available.  For instance, “I’m here for you if you need to talk, but my parents don’t let me use the phone after 9 on school nights, so call before then.
  • Don’t turn what you’ve been told into gossip. If someone is talking to you about their mental health, it was probably tough for them to work up the nerve to say something in the first place and you shouldn’t share what they tell you with other students at school. Let them share on their own terms.
  • If you don’t understand, do some research and learn about what you’ve been told. Make sure that your information is coming from reliable sources like government agencies and health organizations.
  • Tell an adult if you have to. It’s important to have friends that trust you, but if a friend indicates they have thoughts or plans of hurting themself or another person, have been hearing voices or seeing things that no one else can hear or see, or have any other signs and symptoms that shouldn’t be ignored then you need to tell an adult what is going on. That doesn’t make you a bad friend; it just means that the problem requires more help than you can give. If someone you know is in crisis and needs help urgently, call 1-800-273-TALK (8255), text 741741, go to your local Emergency Room or call 911.

You can read more here.

If you or someone you know is struggling with depression or mental stress, text ‘Start’ to the Crisis Text Line at 741-741. It’s free, confidential; and someone is available to talk to you 24/7. You can visit their website www.crisistextline.org for more information.

You can also call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (800-273-8255).

Or you can contact the National Alliance on Mental Illness (800-950-6264) for support and local referrals.

You can also go to Mental Health America to find a support group in your area.

#MentalHealthAwarenessMonth #MHAM #MentalHealth #MentalWellness #YouAreNotAlone #HopeForToday

MHAM: What is Mental Health?

Let’s go back to the basics and talk about what mental health is, because when we understand a thing, we are less likely to be afraid of it, less likely to discriminate against it, more likely to develop compassion and help others. Education is power and we should not just empower ourselves, but empower others.

Mental health is our emotional, psychological, and social well-being. It affects how we think, feel, and act. It also helps determine how we handle stress, relate to others, and make choices. Mental health is important at every stage of life, from childhood and adolescence through adulthood.

Over the course of your life, if you experience mental health problems, your thinking, mood, and behavior could be affected. Many factors contribute to mental health problems, including:

  • Biological factors, such as genes or brain chemistry
  • Life experiences, such as trauma or abuse
  • Family history of mental health problems

Mental health problems are common but help is available. People with mental health problems can get better and many recover completely. You can read more about this here.

If you or someone you know is struggling with depression or mental stress, text ‘Start’ to the Crisis Text Line at 741-741. It’s free, confidential; and someone is available to talk to you 24/7. You can visit their website www.crisistextline.org for more information.

You can also call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (800-273-8255).

Or you can contact the National Alliance on Mental Illness (800-950-6264) for support and local referrals.

You can also go to Mental Health America to find a support group in your area.

#MentalHealthAwarenessMonth #MHAM #MentalHealth #MentalWellness #YouAreNotAlone #HopeForToday

MHAM: 5 Action Steps for Helping Someone in Emotional Pain

Oftentimes, we don’t know what to do or say to others going through emotional pain, especially when we think the person might be suicidal. Here are 5 steps you can take to help out and possibly save a life.

om_18-4315-5actionsteps-508_157844

If you or someone you know is struggling with depression or mental stress, text ‘Start’ to the Crisis Text Line at 741-741. It’s free, confidential; and someone is available to talk to you 24/7. You can visit their website www.crisistextline.org for more information.

You can also call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (800-273-8255).

Or you can contact the National Alliance on Mental Illness (800-950-6264) for support and local referrals.

You can also go to Mental Health America to find a support group in your area.

#MentalHealthAwarenessMonth #MentalHealth #MentalWellness #YouAreNotAlone #HopeForToday

 

 

Mental Health Awareness Month

Today begins Mental Health Awareness Month. Every year during this month, I post articles, information and stories about mental health. This is something that affects everyone: whether you are suffering with a mental disorder or you are a caregiver. But here’s the thing – this month isn’t just about mental illness, it’s about mental health, it’s about mental wellness. So let’s come together and give this the extra attention, give you the extra attention you deserve. Because we all deserve to be healthy – in our bodies, in our souls and in our minds.

So let’s start with some basic facts about mental health and stay tuned for more throughout this month.

GeneralMHFacts

If you or someone you know is struggling with depression or mental stress, text ‘Start’ to the Crisis Text Line at 741-741. It’s free, confidential; and someone is available to talk to you 24/7. You can visit their website www.crisistextline.org for more information.

You can also call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (800-273-8255).

Or you can contact the National Alliance on Mental Illness (800-950-6264) for support and local referrals.

You can also go to Mental Health America to find a support group in your area.

#MentalHealthAwarenessMonth #MentalHealth #MentalWellness #YouAreNotAlone #HopeForToday

I Can Be…

I realize Mental Health Awareness Month ended yesterday, but I thought it apropos to make one more post on the subject after reading the following article, Why I Choose To Say ‘I am Bipolar’ by Daria Akers online at The Mighty. It resonated with me, not because I finally understand who to look at this illness. Read below.

One of the major discussions in the mental health community is how to refer to your diagnosis. Some people say you should always say you have the condition; not that you are the diagnosis. The common rationale for that is that your illness shouldn’t define you. It isn’t who you are. People point out that no one says “I am cancer,” or “I am diabetes.”

But I say I am bipolar because my diagnosis helps define me. To be honest, it is a huge part of who I am. While I was first diagnosed in my early 30s, I’ve looked back and can see I started having my symptoms in puberty.

Most of my formative years happened while I was mentally ill. My bipolar disorder helped shape all of the facets of my life. In high school, the waves of mania and depression affected not just my emotions but also my sense of self-worth, my ability to make and keep friends, my sexuality and my reputation.

Now that I have been diagnosed and I am successfully managing my condition, I am stronger, more confident and more at peace. My bipolar is providing me with opportunities that I might have never had if I didn’t have it. I have become an advocate for people with mental health conditions through my writings, speeches and volunteer work.

I think my mental illness is so integral to who I am that the Daria who is wouldn’t exist without my bipolar.

I’ve said, ‘I’m bipolar.’ I’ve recently stated, ‘I live with bipolar depression.’ I think I am indifferent either way, but what struck me was how she ended her article.

My bipolar is providing me with opportunities that I might have never had if I didn’t have it.

Keep reading, because I almost didn’t.

I have become an advocate for people with mental health conditions through my writings, speeches and volunteer work.

Early on in my treatment, my counselor advised me to read, An Unquiet Mind by Kay Redfield Jamison. This book is like the bible to the newly diagnosed mentally ill. And with good reason. Ms. Jamison, a doctor herself, lived with bipolar and its affects, even as she treated others. She ended the book much in a similar fashion as Ms. Akers ended her article – she posed the hypothetical question whether or not she would choose to have manic-depressive illness, if given the choice. She said, she would. She said due to her illness, she experienced everything with greater intensity and passion.

I walked away from that book with a greater understanding of my illness, but also a great contempt for the author and her book, because I couldn’t understand how she could say what she said. Greater intensity and passion in life is wonderful, but at the expense of your peace and sanity? I’m not one to judge someone else based on their experience, but that one statement caused me many years of disdain – mainly for myself, because, for the longest time, all I wanted was to NOT have this. To not to be different, not experience the despair and uncontrollable emotions. Not to have to face this for the rest of my life.

Then I read Ms. Akers’ article and I understood what Ms. Jamison was saying. Ms. Akers wrote, I have become because I am bipolar. All she was in that moment was due to, borne from, all because of her illness, because that’s how she viewed it. And that’s what it boils down to–what do you see? How do you see yourself? How do you see your situation? I’m not missing any kind of depth or appreciation for bipolar that I wouldn’t have otherwise. Or even somehow grandizing it. We get so focused on what we are with these illnesses, we often miss what we can become because of them.

Let me rephrase that, because this is personal–I have been so focused on what I am with it, that I’ve missed what I can become because of it. Yeah, the bad parts suck, but they don’t last and it’s during those times that I can become something more than the illness. I don’t have to be just bipolar. I can be more. I can be an advocate, a healer, a point of inspiration for someone else going through something similar. Or I can be passionate, happy, appreciative of the good times, however far and between those moments fall. The point is, I can be more than what this disease says I am. I just need to change my perception–a task easier said than done, but now that I see it for what it is, it’s an attainable one.