What Are Mental Health Stigmas?
Each year, millions of people in the United States face the reality of living with or knowing someone with a mental health condition. Even though mental illnesses affect such a large amount of people in the U.S., the stigma continues to be fostered through misunderstanding and misinformation about these common conditions.
Social stigma attached to mental illness and health can often make it difficult to recover. This is because ignorance and discrimination can be emotionally stressful, causing people to regress or close themselves off to the world. Mental health stigma can also worsen someone’s mental health problems, delay them from getting the help they need, as well as their overall recovery.
Why is it Important?
We believe that mental health conditions are important to discuss year-round; however, highlighting them during Mental Illness Awareness Week (October 6th through the 12th) provides a dedicated time and space to discuss important topics. One major part of understanding mental illness is learning how to support people who are affected.
Uterine fibroids, as well as other reproductive/uterine conditions, take a toll on people’s mental and physical health. Not only do fibroids cause painful symptoms, but they can impact your emotional well-being by causing one to feel left out or lonesome. In addition, fibroids may also negatively impact body image and self-confidence. Providing access to helpful resources regarding support and healthy coping mechanisms can help people understand the emotional affects of living with chronic pain.
Here are seven, easy ways to help break down mental health stigmas:
- Don’t harbor self-stigma – It’s easy to recommend to others that they should get help, but it can be difficult to look inside at your own mental health. Evaluate your own feelings and thoughts on a daily basis. Understand when you should seek treatment and when you should reach out to others for help.
- Show empathy – Remember to check in with your friends and ask how they’re doing. Even if your friends don’t want to talk about their feelings, it’s important to let them know you are always here if they want to confide in you in the future. If they do choose to confide in you, don’t share their feelings or experiences with anyone else unless they are planning to hurt themselves or someone else. This trust is important and it’s critical to think how you would feel if you were in their place.
- Don’t isolate others – Just because your friend or family member has a mental illness doesn’t mean they want to be by themselves. Don’t pressure, but include them as frequently as you can. For example, if they would rather spend time in a small group versus a larger group, listen to what makes them feel comfortable and plan activities that they can participate in as well.
- Encourage healthy decisions – Encourage your friends and family members to participate in activities that help them grow despite their mental illness. Be encouraging, but not pushy and remember to lead by example.
- Be honest – Talking about your own experiences with mental illness can help break the stigma around discussing mental illness. If you can’t relate, be honest and ask them questions so you can better understand their illness and what you can do to help.
- Look inside – Not everyone is perfect. Everyone is influenced by cultural conditioning, so it’s important to take the time to examine your judgments and attitudes about people with mental illness. Make a daily, conscious effort to deconstruct assumptions you might be making about mental illness and instead, learn more about the condition to educate yourself.
- Use mindful language – Remember that words like “retarded”, “schizo”, “bipolar”, “OCD”, or “psycho” can be triggers for people with mental illness. Use alternative words to describe your feelings. These often continue the stigma of mental illness and promotes isolation.
Fibroids and Mental Health
Overall, it can be easy to help people with mental illness feel supported. Open communication as well as wanting to learn more about these conditions, can help break down stigmas associated with mental illness. For people living with conditions like fibroids, it can be easy to think your friend, family member, or coworker is making excuses or just blowing you off. Considering fibroids often comes with symptoms like heavy, difficult to manage periods, frequent urination, and pain during sex, it can be challenging to discuss these more personal topics. Often, women don’t feel ready to share the intimate details of their struggles with fibroids. That’s why, it’s even more important to learn how to be supportive and understanding.
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