Let's Help Fight Stigma
National Mental Health Awareness Month
1 in 5 Americans live with a mental disorder, but nearly two-thirds of all people with a diagnosable mental illness don't seek treatment. Lack of knowledge, fear of people finding out, rejection by friends, and discrimination are a few reasons why people with mental illness don’t seek help.
Stigma is a battle that is real for people living with mental illness. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness of Southern Arizona (NAMISA), there are steps we can take to help fight stigma:
Use respectful language
. Put the person before the illness – use phrases such as “a person with schizophrenia." Never use terms like crazy, lunatic, psycho, retarded and correct people who do so.
Provide professional development opportunities for staff, regarding diversity, mental health issues, and fostering an inclusive work environment.
Include mental illness in discussions about acceptance of diversity, just as you would discuss cultural diversity, religious beliefs, physical disability, and sexual orientation.
Become an advocate.
Create awareness by writing letters to newspapers and lawmakers. Speak out and challenge stereotypes portrayed in the media. Take it upon yourself to inform your community about the truth of mental illness.
Teach others about mental illness.
Spread understanding that these are illnesses like any other.
Remember, our local chapter of NAMI offers classes and support groups for people living with mental illness and their families at no cost to the attendees. Contact them today for more information and fight the stigma of mental illness.