In a world without stigma, more people would feel comfortable talking about their mental health, and therefore would be able to seek help if they needed it, but how do we put an end to stigma? You have the power to help in your everyday life!
Things you can do:
- Educate yourself;
- Talk about what you learn with your friends;
- Watch out for your friends, ask the important questions, and make sure they know that they can talk to you;
- Share your own story if you feel comfortable.
Language matters: What we say and how we say it can be very powerful, especially when it comes to sensitive topics such as mental health, mental illness, and suicide. To be sure that we are not unintentionally hurting those around us, here are some important (but simple) rules to follow:
Avoid derogatory language like “crazy” or “psycho” especially when talking about someone with a diagnosed mental illness (or anyone for that matter). Those types of words can be extremely hurtful to those experiencing a mental illness or concern.
Be specific! When speaking about someone who has a diagnosed mental illness or a mental health concern. Instead of saying “she is mentally ill,” you could say “she has been diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder.” That sounds better, doesn’t it?
Avoid using mental illnesses as adjectives, especially describing actions or situations that do not involve a diagnosed mental illness. For example instead of saying “I am so OCD” to describe a love for organization, you could say “I just really love when things are in the proper place.”
Don’t joke about suicide! It is no joking matter, but we see people laughing about the topic a lot in pop culture. Joking about suicide can increase feelings of embarrassment and shame for those who are struggling, and it may prevent them from seeking help. Instead, talk about suicide in a respectful way. The more we learn and talk about suicide, the closer we are to ending the stigma, and the safer people will feel to get help when they need it.