Folks with mental health issues or mental illnesses often hear these words, either directly or indirectly. The stigma against mental illness isolates and kills countless people every year, and leads to coping behaviors including drug use, unsafe/risky sex and, sadly, often suicide.
— Janean O (@_WellnessAndMe) December 24, 2016
#EndTheStigma is a campaign aimed at doing just that: end the stigma of mental illness.
“By spreading awareness, we can end the stigma surrounding mental illness and give hope to those who need it most,” the #EndTheStigma website explains.
One in four adults experiences mental illness, and it affects those around them, too. Mental illness does not care about race, ethnicity, financial status, or any other aspect of your life.
The attitude that mental illness is a choice and that folks can just “pull themselves up by their bootstraps” is like treating someone who has asthma as a “wimp” when they can’t run a mile.
Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the United States. Imagine how this number might dwindle with adequate mental health care, support from loved ones, flexible work and academic environments and access to physical health care — for the maladies that either result from the stress of chronic depression and other mental illnesses, or those that cause depression.
Depression doesn’t just “hit” randomly once you reach a certain age. According to the Mental Health.gov, half of all mental health disorders become visible before a person turns 14 years old, and three quarters of mental health disorders show up before age 24.
Unfortunately, less than 20 percent of children and young adults with diagnosable mental health problems receive the treatment they need, and much of this may be due to the stigma around mental illness. However, early care can head off the effects before they interfere with other developmental needs.
— End The Stigma (@EndTheStigma) January 5, 2017
#EndTheStigma and other viral campaigns may not seem like much, but they provide an easy platform for folks, especially adolescents, who may be struggling. In fact, there’s evidence that support and access to help after trauma can increase the chance that children and other youths may recover before trauma transforms into mental illness.
Access, which is increased and made possible when we set aside false ideas and attitudes about mental illness, has been shown to lower crime rates, increase lifespan, lower health care costs, and strengthen economies, to name a few benefits.
How can you help end the stigma of mental illness?
1. Talk about it!
Reach out to your friends and loved ones to tell them that you care, and ask what you can do to help. Sometimes it’s really difficult to sift through the mounds of paperwork and phone calls when you are battling depression, anxiety, physical health issues and anything else that may pop up.
2. Give The Gift of Your Time and Labor
Volunteer a couple of hours to help friends by organizing their forms, filling them out, and perhaps making the phone calls for those with phone anxiety (yes, that’s a real thing). If they won’t let you simply do them a favor, arrange a skill-trade so that it’s an even exchange and no one is left feeling beholden to the other. In many cases, that will reduce the anxiety even further for the person who needs your help!
3. Eradicate Ableist Language
This includes words like “crazy,” “lame,” “insane,” “psycho” and other common terms. As pointed out by Autistic Hoya, “Language is inherently political. Both as individuals and as larger social and cultural groups, it is self-evident that the language we use to express all sorts of ideas, opinions, and emotions, as well as to describe ourselves and others, is simultaneously reflective of existing attitudes and influential to developing attitudes.” You can show support by taking these hurtful words out of your language.