End the stigma

End the stigma surrounding mental health care

There is often a clear distinction made between ‘mind’ and ‘body’, but truly mental and physical health are inseparable. 

It is shown that mental health challenges adversely impact physical health and vice versa. For example, in the US, the average life expectancy has increased to 78.6 years. However, the average life span for people with serious mental illness ranges from 49 to 60 years (NIMH). This is 25-30 years less than the general public.

May is Mental Health Awareness Month

Additionally, people with depression have a 40% higher risk of developing heart diseases than the general population (NAMI). The second leading cause of death among individuals between the ages of 10 and 34 is suicide. Mental illness and substance use disorders are involved in 1 out of every 8 emergency room visits by adults.

By not talking about mental health, or allowing ourselves, friends, or family to seek care, we add to the stigma that surrounds mental illnesses (what is stigma?). Some of the harmful effects of this stigma related to mental health care can include:

  • Discrimination
  • Lack of understanding by family, friends, co-workers or others
  • Fewer opportunities for work, school, or social activities or trouble finding housing
  • Bullying, physical violence, or harassment
  • Health insurance that doesn’t adequately cover their mental illness treatment
  • The belief that they’ll never succeed at certain challenges or that they can’t improve their situation

Stigma also can lead to a reluctance to seek help or treatment. Nearly 20% of Americans will experience a mental illness in their lifetime. However, fewer than half of those who experience a mental illness will seek treatment. 

Mental illness is treatable, and people with mental illnesses can and do live fulfilling productive, and happy lives. But the longer mental health conditions go untreated, the more severe they become. 

What are some ways to normalize the mental health conversation?
Talk Openly About Mental Health – It’s perfectly normal to talk to friends, family, and coworkers about seeing a doctor if you have the flu or a broken leg. Talking about seeing a therapist because you’re depressed normalizes the mental health conversation in a similar way. If you’re talking to a friend or loved one, be direct. Being hesitant to talk about mental health only adds to the notion that it’s a taboo topic. 

Educate yourself and others 
Do your own research about mental illness and share that information with others. Most of us know the differences between physical ailments such as a cold, a sprain, cancer, etc. We don’t refer to them under a singular “physical illness” umbrella. Similarly, there are many different mental illnesses, each with their own unique symptoms and behaviors. Sharing information eliminates misconceptions that contribute to stigma. 

Be Conscious of Language – Mental health conditions are often used negatively as adjectives, which is problematic. Try to be conscious of the words you use to describe people, things, and behaviors that you think are different. 

1 in 4 people will suffer from some form of mental illness in any given year.  Not all pain is physical and not all wounds are visible.  Break the silence and break the stigma, jump in and help.  

Scroll to Top
Call Now Button