the antidote to stigma is hope
We say that we TALK about it.
We say that the world has majorly shifted in the direction of openly talking about our mental health but is just TALKING about it enough?
I’m curious as to how we are actively changing the conversation of mental health & challenging the stigma.
SHAME is the number one thing that keeps individuals from seeking out treatment for mental health related issues. I had an individual come in the other day & share that her old counselor told her she had depression. She began to tell me that there was something terribly wrong with her because when she told people their response was “why? you have the perfect life.” We may be sharing our stories and becoming more vulnerable but we need to be taking a closer look at how we respond.
Picture this: Your sister tears her ACL in a basketball game and she receives medical attention right away; only to find out that she would need surgery to prevent any further damage to her knee. Now imagine society viewed ACL surgery as if it was a personal failure. You think she would be more reluctant to seek out treatment?
Flash to reality: Your sister actually has depression instead of a torn ACL. How would society view this situation differently? It would’t be surprising for the conversations around her struggle to keep her from getting help.
We can’t always stop the thoughts running through our heads but we can adjust the words that we say.
commit to changing the conversation
ADDRESS THE “WHOLE” PERSON
Our initial response to someone who struggles with depression is to say you are sorry they are depressed in some way or form. This can label depression as a defining characteristic. If we look at a friend who struggles with depression and view it as a small part of a person’s unique qualities such as being a kind, loyal, trustworthy, friend, sister, brother or mother, our response changes. We might say “You are a badass & I’m proud of you - let’s talk about what I can do to help,”
If we can move mental health into the category of overall “WELLNESS” people will be more willing to seek help with confidence.
EDUCATE yourself and do your own research. Be active and formulate your OWN opinions and approach to mental health. Stop scrolling through Instagram or Facebook and actually read up on it!
LISTEN with a goal of understanding & don’t be afraid to ask questions. Seek an understanding of the situation a person is experiencing. It shows that you are present and engaged. Don’t avoid or change the subject on these types of conversations. Remember, they are telling you for a reason.
ENCOURAGE treatment and offer to help them find it if needed. Research has shown that up to 85% of individuals see a significant decrease in their symptoms through counseling.
SHARE your story if and when you feel comfortable. The antidote to stigma is HOPE. By sharing your story, you are showing others experiencing a similar situation hope & a light. You never know the impact your story could have on someone.