A Look Into How the Stigma Around Mental Health is Changing and What We Can Do to Help
We all know the stigmas that surround mental health and illnesses. There are people who don’t even believe in it at all; they believe that mental illness (or what people claim is mental illness) is just an overreaction to emotions. To them, it shows a lack of maturity and an inability to handle life. There are those who do believe that mental illness is real but choose to ignore it or let others deal with it. They don’t want to get involved, for whatever reason. This perspective can often come from a place of fear; in fact, both can come from a place of fear. In regards to those who don’t believe in it, this can be because they are terrified of facing the idea of something being wrong with their brain. They don’t want to consider the possibility that these things are real and are afraid of a “higher authority” controlling what they should believe, therefore they reject it. For those who believe but ignore, they can fear what it means for them. They’re afraid of the ramifications of facing mental illnesses, either in themselves or someone else, and fear what kind of changes it could bring their life. They are comfortable in their familiarity and don’t want to upset that at all. There are many stigmas like these two that exist in the world and they have persisted for decades, if not centuries.
Be the Change You Want to See
The good news is that these stigmas are changing and where we are now as a society is miles ahead of where we were before. We still have a lot of work to do and it’s not perfect by any means, but it is better. We have worked, and continue to work, to raise awareness of mental illness and recovery, and the narrative is changing. There is real momentum in our efforts to normalize the idea of mental illness, and we can reach the point we are all seeking.
So what can you do to help keep the movement going in a healthy way? The most important thing you can do is to be open about your experiences with mental illness. Speak about what you went through, what you felt, and how you overcame it. Don’t let anyone or anything shame you for what you went through and let the conversation keep going. If we can keep talking about it and keep sharing our stories, then the idea will become normalized and people will adjust to it whether they know it or not. Of course, this isn’t to say you should go around and force people to listen to you. Unfortunately, if we push our ideas and beliefs on people, they are a lot less likely to listen and believe us. We have to refrain from speaking from a place of anger or resentment. If we point the finger at other people and tell them: “Hey, I’m this way and YOU need to accept it. YOU need to change”, those people will feel threatened, and naturally, they will disagree with you. No one responds well to being told they’re wrong and so we have to come at it from a place of understanding and compassion. Show them that you are there to talk and listen to them, and hopefully, they can feel the same way about you.
We must always keep in mind the impact that our experiences can have on others. It’s easy to fall into this place of believing you are the only one who is dealing with it, and therefore you are the only one who can speak to it. You cannot use your struggles as an excuse to demand others to change. Asking for accommodation is one thing, a necessary thing, but to completely put the responsibility on someone else is unfair. Always ask for help but remember to put in the work yourself as well.
The world is changing and the way people think is changing as well. We are moving towards a more inclusive mindset, whether you believe it or not. Even with top officials or positions of authority denying several things, there is still change happening around them. We are the engine that keeps the machine going, not them. We are putting in the work to make sure that we feel supported, that we are supported and that others like us can share in that same feeling. We deserve to feel accepted and believed, we deserve to be validated. One day, we always will be.
It’s easy to want to discredit the critics, but it might not be the best course of action. Consider where they are coming from and how they formed this perspective. If we can show them an example of true compassion and understanding, then maybe we can help them do the same for us. After all, it shouldn’t be “them”, it should always be “us”.
If you, or anyone you know, is struggling with addiction or mental illness, do not hesitate to contact the team here at True Recovery. Our program, founded in 2014, is built around finding what’s best for you to overcome your addiction. Our facility is located in Newport Beach, California, with our supportive housing located close to our campus in Costa Mesa. Take advantage of the local beaches, nature preserves, and Orange County community while we fight for you. Contact us at (866) 399-6528 and [email protected]