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Combating Mental Health Stigma - for those who are suffering

Did you know that those with mental health problems are amongst the least likely group, of all those who suffer with a long-term health problem to hold down a job, to be in a long-term steady relationship, to live in decent housing and to be socially accepted by society? Part of what fuels those difficulties is mental health stigma. So, today’s focus is on what you, as the person who is struggling could do to help others better understand what you’re experiencing.

Stigma is often born out of misconception or misunderstanding of something. So, if you are struggling with a mental health problem, helping to educate those around you can be the most helpful way to combat that. The charity Mind have a page on their website, outlining ideas ways to help deal with stigma.

1. Show people reliable information

They suggest showing people reliable information. Mind themselves have different pages on types of mental health problems. And try to explain to others what it's like to experience that mental health problem and how it might be treated or where you might find support.

2. Get involved in your care

It can be tempting when you're not feeling right to just relinquish all control to those around you and go along with whatever it is that you're told. Although there will be professionals around you who are giving you sound advice, it's also really important that you feel part of your treatment and part of your care. So, get involved, understand why somebody is treating something this way and what you can do to help.

3. Know your rights

This may be around something like work - for instance, where you stand legally in terms of being signed off for mental health problems and sick pay. If you don't understand what your rights are then contact an advocate who can help you with that process and help your voice be heard.

4. Talk about your experience

If you can do this while you're struggling with the mental health problem, then that's great because it allows those around you to understand more about what you're thinking, and what you're feeling and ways they can try to support you. However, if you don't feel able to do it whilst you're experiencing the problem or in the depths of it, perhaps once you're feeling a little bit better, you could.

5. Write about it

Something like blogging can be really helpful; writing about your experience, what it was like what would have helped, what did help, etc. Again, this is helping to educate people.

6. Get involved with a campaign

There are lots of mental health campaigns around the country and you can choose how you would like to get involved. This can really help because you’re helping others and actively raising awareness.

Next week we're going to look at how to prevent or combat stigma from the other side; somebody who is trying to help those who are experiencing a mental health problem. See you then!

Suzie Booth

Counsellor MBACP.

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