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June 04, 2024

Destigmatizing mental health discussions with family and friends

Mental Health Support

Content sponsored by IBC-Native-060424-Destigmatize

Purchased - Supporting a person who is struggling with mental health ChayTee/

Most people don’t mind telling their friends and family that they went to their doctor to address a physical health issue such as hypertension, high cholesterol, or a bad case of the flu. But when it comes to discussing mental health conditions, many people are hesitant to share their struggles with others.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than one in five adults in the U.S. have a mental health illness. The commonness of these conditions should make talking about them just as easy as having a discussion about a physical health issue. But there’s a social stigma surrounding mental health, and this can make opening up about it very difficult.

No one should feel ashamed for having — or seeking help for — a mental health issue. Here are some ways to break the stigma and make discussing mental health more comfortable for everyone.

1. Initiate the conversation

The first step to destigmatizing discussions about mental health is to talk openly openly about it without fear of being judged. Being hesitant to talk about mental health only gives more power to the idea that it’s a taboo topic.

2. Practice empathy

If you’re talking with a friend or family member about their mental health, it’s important to listen without jumping to conclusions or offering unsolicited advice. Validate their feelings and offer support where you can. If you're concerned about them, express your worries in a gentle way and avoid blaming them for their struggles.

If you’re talking about your own mental health, try not to judge yourself. Explain what you’re going through and don’t feel bad about it. If there’s something the person you’re talking with can do to help you, let them know what it is.

3. Be mindful of your language

The words you use matter. Never use terms like “crazy” to describe someone with a mental health disorder. You should also avoid:

  1. Labeling someone by their disorder. If they have schizophrenia, say that; don’t call them schizophrenic.
  2. Calling someone mentally ill. Instead, say they are experiencing or having mental health problems or issues.
  3. Saying someone is a victim of, or suffering from, a mental health condition. Instead, say they have it or are experiencing it.

4. Educate yourself

Knowledge is power when it comes to destigmatizing mental health. Familiarize yourself with common mental health conditions and treatment options to better understand what others are going through. And if you're dealing with a mental health issue yourself, learning more about your condition can empower you to communicate your needs effectively.

5. Normalize seeking help and self-care

Seeking professional support when it’s needed is nothing to be ashamed of. It’s also important to take time to rest and recharge when you’re dealing with a mental health issue, just as you would with a physical ailment.

By normalizing conversations about mental health, we can break the stigma and create an environment where everyone feels comfortable seeking help and support when they need it most.

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