Destigmatizing Mental Health: How to start the Conversation

Recently the American Psychiatric Association released a brief on reporting on mental health cases and the status of individuals and communities (article). APA highlights the detriment that media has on reporting mental health cases that lead only to violence. This skewed view only delays treatment due to the shame and guilt that is associated with mental illnesses.

The Center for Disease Control shows within the United States reports more than 50% of the population will be diagnosed with a mental illness or disorder (link). Yet, mental health remains a taboo subject amongst many family members. Depression and anxiety are common mental health disorders that everyone will experience once within their lifetime. These mood disorders are more prevalent and occur within a spectrum. Long-term effects that are biological or medical can impair functioning in various ways for each individual such as their relationships, occupation, or education. I highlighted the importance of maintaining our emotional health in a previous post . With the rise of mental health-related issues, it is important to begin and continue the conversation of supporting, encouraging, and improving mental health care. Here are a few ways to begin: 

  1. Improve your emotional literacy by frequently identifying various emotions and observe the emotions of others. (Instead of “How are you?” Try “How are you feeling lately?”
  2. Use the correct terminology when specific disorders are in discussion. 
  3. Use appropriate descriptors instead of assigning mental health disorders to inanimate objects or stereotype (e.g The weather is bipolar here, Aunt X is ‘ crazy’)
  4. Normalize the discussion of therapy treatments and attendance. 
  5. Support and empower self-advocacy of family and friends with a mental illness or disorder. 
  6. Advocate for family members and friends with mental illness disorders when misinformation is being communicated.  
  7. Be mindful and present when a friend expresses vulnerability.
  8. Know the resources available in your area (see a listed few below). 

Fighting mental health stigma will take individual effort. In 2020, we noticed within a social justice lens what it takes for change to begin. It is not merely talking about taking actions but implementing, delegating, and supporting efforts that sustain change. When I think about what I can do to make a difference, I first highlight my strengths and values. This will look different for everyone. Living simply allows me to start conversations in my community. My lifestyle may seem odd and alternative but with my consistency, I can articulate my purpose. When I was drowning in the midst of decision fatigue, I felt paralyzed. Instead of refining what I cared for, I was looking to what others wanted from me and trying to please crowds that never made space for me to be in. I hope you can to find the communities that welcome you; and for you to keep learning how to love you. Below are current resources that are supportive and inclusive.

Mental Health Resources: 

National Suicide Prevention Line

Crisis Text Line

Psychology Today 

Therapy for Black Girls

Latinx Therapy

Brown Girl Therapy 

Asian Mental Health Collective 

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