Mental illness is a very common form of human pain and suffering.
According to research, 1 in 5 Canadians will experience a diagnosable mental illness.
One of the biggest hurdles for anyone suffering from mental illness is overcoming the stigma attached to it. This stigma brings about isolation and prevents people from getting the help that they need.
Only 1 in every 3 Canadians with a mental health issue will seek help, leaving millions trying to cope all on their own. Stigma is perhaps the biggest barrier to mental health care. Fear of being criticize or judged by those around them may prevent them from reaching out to others for support.
There are still many misconceptions about mental illness. These misconceptions lead to further stigma, prejudice and discrimination. This stigma can prevent people from getting hired, promoted or keeping a job, getting proper health care, feeling loved, needed and accepted, contributing to communities or feeling productive.
For some, this stress can bring about further mental health issues. This becomes a vicious circle.
Mental illness is nothing to be ashamed of, but stigma and bias shame us all — Bill Clinton
Bring Mental Illness Issues Out Into The Open
- Educate yourself about mental health challenges and issues
- Foster a healthy workplace environment
- Emphasize abilities, not limitations
- Use respectful language
- Refer to the person not the disability or illness
- Tell people when they express a stigmatizing attitude
- Portray successful people with disabilities as the exception
- Use generic labels such as “retarded” or “the mentally ill”
- Use terms like “crazy,” “lunatic,” or “insane” in general conversation. Language matters. Watch the words that you use that may colour the way we see mental health issues.
- Don’t let stigma create self-doubt and shame
It is everyone’s responsibility to reduce the stigma, prejudice and discrimination associated with mental health issues.
Simple kindness can make a world of a difference. Whether it be a smile, being a good listener or an invitation for a chat over coffee, these simple acts of kindness can let someone know you’re there for them.
Break the Silence. Two out of three people suffer in silence, fearing judgement and rejection. Being open to a conversation is the first step towards eliminating the stigma.
Education, understanding, and support are key to creating a psychologically safe and healthy workplace. Remember that you are not alone. There are resources available to help you to feel more competent in providing this support.
Check out my on-line courses at worksmartlivesmart.com under the resources and courses tab.
If you have some strategies to share – comment on this posting!