Stigma towards mental illness pose a major challenge in healthcare system as it creates serious barriers in seeking help and treatment. Most often people suffering from mental illnesses face double whammy: On one hand they struggle with the disease and on the other hand they fight social stigma from stereotypes and prejudice. People suffering from psychiatric illness face a lot more stigma than those suffering from other medical issues.
Stigma is the worst thing that can happen to people suffering from mental illness. They are labelled as “psychotic” or “mad” rather than a “person suffering from certain illness”. They are blamed for their condition even though they are not at fault. Because of the stigma, people suffering from mental illnesses feel ashamed to seek help from others.
So how do you fight stigma towards mental illness?
Ways to deal with stigma towards mental illness
Speak openly about your mental illness
It is of utmost importance that you speak about your mental illness openly. Speaking on the topic regularly creates awareness and help overcoming the stigma towards mental illness. Once the myths get debunked, the viewpoint about the stigma surrounding the belief about mental illness gets changed in the minds of people.
You can speak with someone reliable or seek the help of a counsellor. Some people feel better after discussing the problem on social media sites.
Learn more about the problem and educate others
The most effective way to fight stigma is to learn more about the problem. By doing this you help yourself and also others who are suffering from the same problem. Learn about:
• Signs and symptoms of mental illness
• Suicidal attempts
Additionally, you can learn about healthcare centres which can help you with the problem. Having sound knowledge, you can understand what you and others need as support. Even you can share your own stories and struggles to help others deal with mental illness.
Choose your language wisely
Yes, language matters. Wrong ways of talking about the mental disease can estrange community members. Talking in harsh and insensitive language can aggravate the problem and lead to further discrimination and stigma.
For example, instead of using words like “psychotic patient” or “mad” we can use adjectives like “person who has been diagnosed with mental illness”.
Always remember to talk with compassion and sensitivity. Handle the situation carefully. Let’s fight the stigma by reminding others to choose their words wisely.
Cheer equality amid mental and physical illnesses
Why don’t you encourage others to see mental and physical illnesses equally? This can help to fight off the stigma. Yes, how people see mental illness matters.
When you make someone believe that mental illness is not different from other physical diseases like heart disease, diabetes or cancer, it makes it much easier for them to cope with the illness.
Fighting illness with a bit of affiliative humor have a great impact in overcoming the disease.
Stigma and discrimination towards their mental illness cause patients to slide into depression and contemplate suicide. Being compassionate is a great way to help people suffering from mental illness to fight the disease positively. Caregivers can try these ways to be compassionate towards the patients:
- Hug them
- Help them by referring to a therapist or counsellor
- Take them for an outing for temporary distraction from their illness
- Gently reminding them if they are being forgetful
- Give them extra love and affection
- Make them feel – “I am with you”
- Practice patience while working with them
Such small gestures will help them fight stigma positively.
Keep empowerment above your shame
Rise above shame and keep yourself empowered to fight the disease. It is your life and learning new ways of empowerment can help you fight the stigma and shame. It will also help you fight the disease positively and lead a better life.
There are several ways by which you can empower yourself like doing regular workouts, having a healthy diet, listening or reading inspirational stories and being with positive people.
Look what interests you and bring a change in your life.
Feel proud to undergo treatment
Mental illness is not your fault and is nothing to be ashamed of. Take pride in yourself by seeking treatment for your mental illness. Be cheerful while you visit a psychiatrist or a therapist for your mental illness. You will feel much better and be able to fight off the stigma.
Fight stigma positively
Often social media sites and TV programs speak about mental illnesses in an insensitive manner. This can increase social stigma. Don’t let the negative comments impact your life. Fight off the stigma towards mental health positively by sharing your personal experiences on social sites and TV programs.
Not only will you help yourself but also others who look negatively towards the disease.
A common belief exists that people suffering from mental illness lose their:
• Life Goals
Fighting social stigma starts with challenging your self-stigma. It is not an easy task but nothing is impossible if you have determination.
With personal empowerment, you can diminish self-stigma to a great extent. In the process, you can also become a helpful member of society and help others in need.
Join Self-Help centers and assistance programs
In recent times numbers of Self-Help centers and assistance programs have come into being such as:
• Drop-In Centres
• Homeless Service
• Anti-Stigma Services
• Crisis Response
• Employment Programs
• Technical Assistance
These groups offer a wide variety of services for those who are diagnosed with psychiatric disabilities. Research has shown that people who have joined one of these mentioned programs have gained independence and self-dependability. Further, they have learned to empower themselves and fight the illness bravely.
Fight off mental illness positively. These tips will help you learn and educate others to deal with social stigma in an effective manner.