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5 tips for combating mental health stigma!

Here are 5 things that you can do to help prevent and combat mental health stigma.

1. Don't label people

You wouldn’t say someone was ‘cancerous’ or ‘diseased’ and the same goes with mental health. Instead of saying ‘they’re schizophrenic’ or ‘they’re bipolar’, try saying ‘they have schizophrenia’ and ‘they have bipolar disorder’. Even try switching ‘they’re depressed and anxious’ with ‘they are suffering with depression and anxiety’. Don't label people as what it is that they're suffering with.

2. Don't use disrespectful terms

When you're talking in general conversation and you're saying, ‘this weather is so awful, it's making me really depressed’ or when somebody tidies up and you say, ‘oh they're so OCD’, they're actually disrespectful terms. Somebody who is truly struggling with true OCD is going to feel offended that you would label, someone who likes things to be tidy as being ‘so OCD’.

3. Don't be insensitive, simplistic or blame somebody for their illness

If somebody was struggling with a physical health condition, let's say they had a cancer diagnosis your response to them would probably not be ‘yes but think about all the ways that you are healthy’. ‘Okay, you've got cancer, but your heart’s’. So, when somebody is struggling with depression, it's not ok to say to them, ‘but think about all the good things that you have’. It's not going to help.

4. Don't be afraid of somebody who's struggling with their mental health

Those who are struggling with their mental health are actually more likely to be the victims of crime than they are to be the perpetrators. You may find somebody's behaviour unusual or different from yours, but that doesn't mean that you need to be frightened of them.

5. Be a role model

Don't just watch what you're saying in front of somebody who's struggling with their mental help; watch what you're saying, try to lead by example in all conversations. Try to educate those around you and spread the non-judgmental view.

Next week we'll be looking at how to instigate and carry out a conversation with somebody about their mental health, or about your mental health.

Suzie Booth

Counsellor MBACP.

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