What to Do About Mental Health Stigma 

STIG-MA (noun):

a mark of disgrace associated with a particular circumstance, quality, or person:
“the stigma of mental disorder”

synonyms shame, disgrace, dishonor, ignominy, opprobrium, humiliation, (bad) reputation shame, disgrace, dishonor, ignominy, opprobrium, humiliation, (bad) reputation

Source: Oxford University Press

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I just realized something: Mental Health Stigma is not killed through lecture. Sure, I can sit and talk about how mental health stigma hurts, but I can also offer some tips to combat it. Research is fairly sparse on the topic – how to combat mental health stigma – but I’ve been looking at it anyway. There are a few tips to consider:

1) Combat internal stigma: Internalized stigma is not really your fault. It’s instilled in you by your family, your friends, the media, and even strangers. You might want to think of your mind as a sponge – if it sits in the dirty water of stigma, it will eventually absorb the dirty water of stigma. Get yourself away from those who are living in the dirty water as much as possible; however, we are talking about cleaning out the dirty water you have already absorbed. Here are a few things to consider:

-Depression, Bipolar Disorder, Schizophrenia and Borderline Personality Disorder are real medical illnesses. Why are they published in medical journals if they’re not?

-See a therapist if you can. I know that often, people are

-Don’t self-medicate. Using alcohol, tobacco or other drugs to make yourself feel better often leads to addiction, and a troubling condition called Dual Diagnosis. I don’t know much about this condition, but bringing on multiple conditions is not recommended for anyone. It takes you the rest of your life of taking care of yourself to live well with mental illness; it takes just as long to recover from addiction.

2) No Name Calling: From one “Crazy” or “Nutjob” to another, those words hurt. They are just as derogatory as racial slurs, and calling something “gay” when you mean stupid. As far as I’m concerned, this name calling is hate and discrimination.

3) Praise for Seeking Help: If you don’t get that it’s good to get professional help with your brain, I’m here to tell you this. It’s good to get professional help for your brain. Your brain is a complex medical instrument that often requires a professional’s expertise to get it working properly. If no one tells you this, know that you are a good person for seeking professional help. Remember, you are not Superman.

4) Take Care of Yourself: I cannot stress this enough – self care is essential. What people do not get about self care is that it is not always the glamorous bubble bath most people picture it to be. Self care is taking your medication even though you gag on the larger medicines. Self care can be the bubble bath or treating yourself, but it’s other things, too. Self care is seeking help if you need it. Self care is resting when you need it. Self care is getting to your therapy appointments. Self care is learning that you can still live a full and productive life with your state of mental health. Self care is not self-medicating.

This is by no means an exhaustive list. If others want to contribute tips and tricks for combating mental health stigma, by all means, tell me.

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