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Breaking The Stigma of Mental Wellness

Updated: Apr 12, 2022

By Bagia Arif Saputra

Anger & Stress Management Specialist

The boy is relaxing on the floor is going through mental illness

May is Mental Health Awareness Month whose purpose is to raise awareness and educate the public about mental illnesses. According to US National Alliance of Mental Illness (NAMI), one in four adults struggle with a mental health issue in their lifetime. Many people who suffer from mental illness still face the stigma which leads to discrimination or worse, bullying, which brings more harm to the said individual.


Harvard Medical School has also stated that stigma is harmful because it impairs self-esteem and other aspects of psychological well-being. This threatens academic and professional achievement as well as mental health. The word stigma is derived from the Latin term for a brand that marked someone as a slave or criminal. In much the same way, stigma about mental illness also "marks" people with mental wellness issues as someone who is deemed “negative, unstable, crazy, or even dangerous”.


A recent extensive research from City University of New York reported that the harmful effects on the stigmatized individual might include:


1. Reduced hope

2. Lower self-esteem

3. Increased psychiatric symptoms

4. Difficulties with social relationships

5. Reduced likelihood of staying with treatment

6. More difficulties at work


Looking at how dangerous the effects of stigma on mental health issues, we need to take action to stop the stigma.


Here are six things you can do to break the stigma of mental wellness:


1. Get to know someone with mental wellness issue

American Psychiatric Association reported that knowing or having contact with someone with mental illness is one of the best ways to reduce stigma.


2. Speak out and share stories about mental wellness

A 2020 national survey sponsored by Hopelab and Well Being Trust (WBG) to 14- to 22-year-olds found that 90 percent of teens and young adults experiencing symptoms of depression are researching mental health issues online and most are accessing other people's health stories through blogs, podcasts, and videos. Individuals speaking out and sharing their stories can have a positive impact. When we know someone with mental illness, it becomes less scary and more real and relatable.


3. Educate yourself and others

Respond to misperceptions or negative comments about mental wellness by sharing facts and experiences.


4. Be conscious of language

Remind people that words matter. Ask people with mental wellness issues any terminologies they prefer to use or not use.


5. Be honest about treatment

Normalize mental wellness treatment, just like any other health care treatment.


6. Show compassion for those with mental illness

It’s very easy. Be kind to others struggling with mental wellness issues. Show love and compassion to those who need it.

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