Despite growing awareness, the stigma and discrimination around mental health are still prevalent. Discrimination against people having mental health issues is a deeply embedded part of society.
People casually throw around the words like crazy, weird, or wrong in their heads without fully realizing the repercussions of these terms in others’ lives. Politicians and media associate anti-social and violent activities with mental illnesses. There have been extremely little to almost no efforts from policymakers or employers to address the devastating effects of mental illnesses.
More than half of the mental health issues prevalent in America remain untreated. A significant reason for this is the stigma and discrimination around mental health issues that make it difficult for people to seek help.
Read More: How To Avoid Mental Health Treatment Stigma
A major chunk of the population, albeit unknowingly, is perpetuating stigma and discrimination toward people having mental illnesses. A harmless joke might hurt people’s sentiments. Hence, it is good to be mindful of the words we use. Here are the five common phrases that might contribute to this vicious cycle of discrimination and what you can do to distinguish yourself:
1. When we say ‘it could be worse.’
While talking to a loved one with mental health issues, we feel the need to reassure them that things are going to be alright. In this quest, we often use phrases like:
‘cmon, it’s not that bad,’ or
‘It could be worse.’
When we compare or undermine their issues, we risk making them feel belittled. It is common for people having poor mental health to react to things that might feel like a minor inconvenience to others.
However, in these times, we must remember that pain is not only ‘subjective’ but ‘relative’ too.
Even though you might mean well, just know that you can never fully gauge how they feel. Therefore, creating a measuring scale for their pain isn’t helpful.
2. When we use diagnosable mental health disorders as mere adjectives.
Far too often, we hear people describing their meticulous nature as ‘obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)’ or changing weather patterns as ‘bipolar.’ Using terms associated with mental health disorders as mere adjectives diminishes their seriousness.
This also adds to the stigma and discrimination around mental by spreading misinformation. We must educate ourselves better on these topics and refrain from using mental illness-related terms as buzzwords.
3. When we diss therapy.
As per a study by the American Psychological Association (APA), millions of Americans seek therapy for different mental health conditions. Nearly all households have at least one member seeking treatment for some mental health issue.
Despite studies showing the effectiveness of therapy, it remains a highly stigmatized topic. Giving due credit to the outdated ideas of therapies mean people associate therapy with a sign of ‘craziness.’ Often, ‘getting therapy’ is labeled as an insult, and those getting it are touted as ‘weak.’
Seeking treatment is not a weakness. The truth is that therapy is not just important to people having severe mental illnesses. Therapies are now a part of people’s well-being. Individuals with acute or mild symptoms have managed to navigate their life’s challenges through it.
Read More: Art Therapy Activities For Stress Relief
4. When say ‘it’s all for the greater good.’
While everyone is allowed to have different beliefs, sometimes telling people to search for the greater good isn’t the right thing.
The pressure to look for the positives in every situation might become an added burden in the life of those going through mental illnesses. Sometimes, there isn’t any explanation or artistic or spiritual reasoning behind people’s pain. Forcing people to see the positives might push them away.
5. When we use inaccurate stereotypes about various conditions.
Another way that we might be adding to the stigma and discrimination around mental health is by believing in stereotypes. People have set ideas about how those with mental health issues must look and behave. They also know that some people, like those with eating disorders or OCD, are just faking it for attention.
However, we must really STOP attacking people with mental illnesses with false statements and stereotypes. Mental illnesses like eating disorders are not attention-seeking stunts. These are real diagnosable issues that mean life and death in serious situations. Mental illnesses do not have a face. People don’t look depressed or bipolar.
People with mental health issues have enough on their plates. If we can’t alleviate their pains, we must undoubtedly build enough empathy to not increase it.
People all around us are suffering, and we must learn how we can support them. A mental health first aid course might be the first place to start. To discover more about the basics of this course, click here.
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