Mental Health: How to Create Awareness & Break the Stigma
Mental Health Awareness: Confronting the Elephant in the Room
Let’s face the truth- No one wants to talk openly about mental health.
Sadly, despite technological, scientific, and medical advances, mental health remains plagued with stigmas and social taboos. The world is still in denial about everything related to mental health- the conditions, treatment options, and the importance of prioritizing it as much as physical health.
Are we deliberately sweeping this issue under the rug? Perhaps we are.
The National Alliance of Mental Illness (NAMI) reveals that every year, about 21 percent of adults in the U.S. are affected by some kind of mental health issue. Unfortunately, does everyone seek professional help? Not all. The Alliance says that less than half of this population seeks professional guidance- with many of them reaching out for help after nearly a decade of hesitance and denial.
It is rather unfortunate that despite the various treatments available, many people with mental health issues rarely come forward to seek professional help. Why? The hesitancy stems from severe social discrimination and the stigma against those with mental health issues. Sometimes, people hesitate to reach out for help due to a lack of the right resources.
What is the point of people suffering in secret when they need medical treatment? Mental health awareness is probably the only solution to break the stigma and help people find professional help to treat their issues.
Putting the Spotlight on Mental Health Issues that Require Attention
NAMI’s statistics reveal that one out of five people currently undergoes or have previously experienced symptoms of mental illness. Statistics like these illustrate how common mental illness is. Mental health issues can be caused by a variety of factors, including:
- Family history of mental health illnesses
- Traumatic life experiences like losing a dear one, financial crises, and physical or psychological abuse
- Brain chemistry and functioning
- Genetic factors
- Social factors such as economic depression
Whilst mental health issues can manifest themselves in many ways, some of the common disorders that need more awareness than others include:
- Depression disorder
- Suicidal thoughts
- Bipolar disorder
- Post-traumatic stress disorder
- Substance use disorders
- Anxiety disorders
Despite their varying symptoms, these conditions can massively impact every aspect of your daily life, affecting how you think, behave, and feel. Inadvertently, this also affects your social, personal, and professional life too. Without the right medical help at the right time, the mental condition can take a toll on your quality of life.
This is precisely why we need to raise awareness about mental health issues and break the social stigma for those millions of people who are desperately and silently crying out for help. The purpose of raising awareness about mental health issues is to inspire others and to share information, tools, and support, regardless of whether or not you struggle with mental illness.
Mental Health Awareness: How Can You Help?
Creating awareness about mental health conditions is, perhaps, the most powerful weapon we can wield to alleviate the shame and denial those suffering from these issues may feel. While we can adopt many approaches to raise awareness, what’s most important is that we try.
We can improve our efforts by:
1. Openly discussing mental health issues
So bad is the stigma and discrimination that even admitting to suffering from a mental disorder is taboo. What’s worse is that people are often subjected to unnecessary scrutiny or ridicule, forcing them to hide and deny their struggles.
Therefore, the first step to bringing the hammer down on the stigma is openly discussing these mental health issues and making it known that they can affect anyone.
When you share your own experiences with mental health, listen to your family and friends' responses, and encourage them to speak out about their symptoms, you'll likely encourage them to seek the help they so badly need.
2. Shedding light on the signs and symptoms
Mental illness is very hard to identify. It may seem that the person is perfectly fine and full of enthusiasm from the outside. On the inside, however, they may suffer unimaginable mental suffering.
Educating yourself on the symptoms and how you can assist your loved one should they receive a diagnosis will be instrumental in reducing the number of people suffering in silence without support.
A person suffering from a mental illness may exhibit any of these warning signs:
- Unexplained mood swings
- Antisocial behavior
- Sudden changes in eating and sleeping patterns
- An inexplicable feeling of sadness
Never ignore these warning signs when you see them in a friend or family member. Instead, encourage them to talk about what they are experiencing and help them get the right professional help.
With mental issues like depression, bipolar disorder, anxiety, and schizophrenia affecting millions, it’s high time we advocate the causes, symptoms, and treatments available.
3. Checking your mental health condition
Are you aware that mental health screenings are available just like physical health screenings? If yes, then well and good. If not, you aren’t alone. Many people don’t know such things exist.Screenings are beneficial tools for those who may think they have a mental illness and for those who don’t. Since many people are unaware of this convenience, gathering a list of screening sites and sharing them in your social network is beneficial. Doing so could give many of your followers a tangible first step that could change their lives.
As a first step, you could undergo a mental health screening and share the experience openly on your social media profiles. This will encourage many others to do the same and maybe a life savior for some.
Also Read: Maternal Health & Child Undernutrition: Challenges & Solutions
4. Volunteering in local mental health awareness programs
You can increase mental health awareness in two ways:
- 1. Using your online presence and actively participating in local campaigns.
Social media is a powerful tool to advocate awareness of mental health issues and the importance of seeking professional help. May is National Mental Health Month, which triggers an outpouring of online events related to mental health. By sharing these events on your profile, you can do your bit to encourage others to learn more about these pressing issues.
Whether you organize events during May or throughout the year, the goal is to spread awareness about the reality of mental health and how it affects the people around you.
- 2. By proposing policy changes.
Policy changes can significantly impact the lives of people with mental health conditions and their supporters. You may consider supporting campaigns by candidates who emphasize improving mental health through their platforms. Alternatively, you can encourage local government officials to recognize national mental health awareness events or propose legislations to improve access to care.
5. Adopting a holistic approach to help others
Raising awareness is more than just educating people about identifying mental illnesses. Your awareness campaign should make a positive, lasting impact on their mental health. Your approach should also inform people about the importance of self-care and self-love. You can do this by helping them focus on their physical fitness by working out and following healthy practices to improve their well-being. One way to do it is to arrange hikes, marathons, and treks in the name of mental health awareness.
REAN HealthGuru App: The Digital Solution to Track Your Mental Health
If you or your loved ones want to keep your mental health in check, it is crucial to track your moods, habits, and symptoms, if you have any. A tracking app can provide accountability and help you stick with specific practices that support your mental health.
Here’s where REAN and the REAN HealthGuru app step in. Our digital platform helps you track your progress, plan your mindfulness practice, and cultivate a positive attitude. All these are necessary to spread mental health awareness. The platform also offers informative articles and workshops offered by professionals that can assist you in overcoming anxiety and build resilience.
Mental Health is Important- Take Care Now!
It’s okay not to feel okay. What’s not okay is not seeking help when you desperately need it. Or not being able to help someone who needs a guiding hand. The onus is on everyone to help those suffering from mental illnesses.
Break the stigma today. Be open-minded and encourage people to talk about their issues and seek help. Be an advocate for mental health awareness. Your effort can make a big difference in many people’s lives.
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