Talk About Mental Health
February 6 is National Time to Talk Day, a day to raise awareness around mental health and bring our experiences out into the open.
Nearly 20% of Americans will experience a mental illness in their lifetime. But many people don’t talk about mental illness, even within their own family. This can be because they don’t understand, because of fear, or because of shame.
Why Talk about Mental Health?
When we talk about mental health, we help to remove the negative attitudes and beliefs that surround it. These negative attitudes and beliefs are called stigma. Stigma can cause people to feel ashamed for something that is out of their control, and it can keep them from getting the help they need. Stigma can have other harmful effects, too:
- Lack of understanding by family, friends, co-workers, or others
- Fewer opportunities for work, school, or social activities
- Trouble finding housing
- Bullying, physical violence, or harassment
- Inadequate health insurance
- Believing that you’ll never succeed or can’t improve the situation
- Reluctance to seek help
Coping with Mental Health Stigma
Stigma is based in a lack of understanding, not facts. So it’s important to talk about mental health with others, and to do what you can to take care of yourself. Here are some tips from the Mayo Clinic and the National Alliance on Mental Illness on ways to fight mental health stigma:
Get treatment. More than 35% of people with mental illness don’t get treatment. Treatment can reduce symptoms and improve your life.
Don’t let stigma create self-doubt and shame. Your mental illness isn’t your fault.
Talk openly about your mental health. Reach out to people you trust for support and compassion.
You are not your illness. Language matters – you are not an illness. Instead of saying “I’m bipolar”, say “I have bipolar disorder”.
Join a support group. Support groups can reduce mental health stigma by educating patients, families, and the public about mental illness.
Speak out. Stigma can be rooted in a lack of understanding. Speaking publicly (in person or on the internet) can educate the public and help others with mental illness.
Written by Cindy Maxim
Sources: NAMI, MAYO CLINIC, MASS
This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Please always follow your healthcare provider's instructions. Programs and services are subject to change. Managed Health Network, LLC (MHN) is a subsidiary of Health Net, LLC. The MHN companies include Managed Health Network and MHN Services, LLC. Health Net and Managed Health Network are registered service marks of Health Net, LLC or its affiliates. All rights reserved