One in five Americans will have a diagnosable mental health condition each year, yet nearly two-thirds do not seek treatment. What keeps people from getting help? One reason is stigma. Fear of rejection, discrimination, and lack of knowledge are all reasons why people often do not seek help.
Each May, we celebrate Mental Health Month and spread the word about mental health and ending the stigma of mental health issues.
What can you do to help end the stigma?
- Talk about it: When we normalize the conversation about mental health, it breaks down stigma.
- Be an advocate: Create awareness and speak out about the challenges and stereotypes portrayed in the media. Challenge the stereotype!
- Use “people first” language: This means putting the person before the illness – use phrases such as “a person with schizophrenia” rather than “schizophrenic person.”
- Take a Mental Health First Aid class: Learn more about mental health problems and how to help. Visit www.mhfajcmh.org to learn more.
- Wear a Mental Health Awareness ribbon; stand with us against stigma: Come by any of the Jefferson Center locations or call 303-432-5156 to get your ribbon.
Our goal of working together to end stigma is so people will be more comfortable getting help when they first need it!
For more ideas on how you can be a stigma-busting advocate, check out Mental Health America’s website and learn about B4Stage4 (Before Stage 4), a campaign to promote addressing mental health needs early rather than when symptoms are more severe.
Let’s come together this May – and every day – to change the way people think and speak about mental health. Together we can work to end the stigma!
Shannon Gwash is the Director of Wellness Services for Jefferson Center and is also a Certified Mayo Clinic Wellness Coach. She earned her MS from the University of Denver in Strategic Health Communications/Behavior Change. She has nearly 10 years of experience in the communication world and nearly three in parenting … which clearly makes her an expert there. To stay sane, she runs around Sloan’s Lake, hikes with her daughter, enjoys outdoor concerts and reads nerdy books.