Mental Health Week:
While we have already come a long way with breaking down negative stereotypes associated with mental health conditions such as anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorders and so on, it is very clear that there is still some way to go. According to SANE, there is an estimated 2 million Australians who do not seek help for their mental illness each year1, and with stigma against mental illness being so common, the impact can clearly be very serious. Stigma has a range of impacts- it discourages people from seeking help, makes recovery harder and fuels isolation.
So, how do we reduce stigma and discrimination? According to BeyondBlue, stigma reduction approaches include2:
Educational approaches: We all know a little bit about mental health issues, but knowing the facts can help you educate others and reject stigmatising stereotypes. This is about understanding mental health not only through its symptoms, but also dispelling false ideas about mental health conditions as well. This includes information resources (for example, books, flyers, movies, websites etc) which challenge inaccurate stereotypes and replace them with factual information.
Contact approaches: 1 in 5 of us live with mental health conditions, and we each have our own story that says a lot more than our diagnosis. Whether you’re a friend, family member, carer or medical professional, getting to know the person, not the condition, and treating them with empathy and kindness means far more than just knowing what they are going through.
Protest approaches: This involves highlighting of the injustices of stigma and requesting, or demanding attitudes or behaviours be suppressed.
To find out more on how you can help reduce stigma, head to www.beyondblue.org.au
- beyondblue Information Paper ‐ Stigma and discrimination associated with depression and anxiety August 2015, p16-18 https://www.beyondblue.org.au/docs/default-source/policy-submissions/stigma-and-discrimination-associated-with-depression-and-anxiety.pdf