Millions of people in the United States are affected by mental illness. It is estimated that one in every five American adults struggles with a mental illness each year. So, why aren’t more of them talking about it?
There are many reasons why people avoid talking about their mental health—they may not be sure who to talk to or how to start a conversation about mental health, for example. But perhaps the biggest reason why someone may be reluctant to speak up is the stigma that still surrounds mental illness, leaving those who struggle with it feeling vulnerable and fearful of discrimination or judgement from their family, friends or colleagues.
No one struggling with a mental illness should ever have to suffer in silence. Putting an end to the stigma that surrounds mental health requires the work of all of us. Here are some intentional steps you can take to help facilitate a positive and supportive environment where talking about mental health isn’t just welcomed—it’s encouraged.
How You Can Help Stop the Stigma
Ask for help
Many people don’t seek support for mental health because they don’t realize they need it. Mental heath isn’t just a concern for people with diagnosable mental health issues like depression, anxiety or bipolar disorder. It’s a concern for all of us—whether you’ve been feeling down for awhile or feelings of anxiety, sadness or hopelessness come and go.
Would you wait to ask for help if you had knee pain that came and went? Or weren’t sure about new lump or bump? You should treat your mental health needs with the same urgency you treat your physical health needs. If you’re not sure what’s bothering you but know something isn’t right, don’t wait to ask for help.
Reach out to others who need help
For some people, asking for help can be hard. Watch out for signs that your family or friends may be struggling; maybe they’re more withdrawn, are canceling plans often or you haven’t heard from them in a while. If you notice a change in their behavior that has you concerned, find time to talk and give them an opportunity to share how they’re feeling. Asking a few questions can help start a conversation and ultimately help them get the support they need.
Share your experience
Stopping the stigma surrounding mental health requires us to socialize the normalcy of needing and asking for help. If you’ve had experience with mental health issues and treatment, it can be helpful to share this with friends or loved ones. Opening up about your experience helps normalize conversations about mental health and might encourage someone to come forward with their own struggles.
Commit to educating others
Even if you haven’t had a personal experience with mental health treatment in the past, you can still advocate for the important of mental health conversations and treatment. Make time to learn about mental health disorders and help disseminate accurate information about symptoms and treatment in conversations with others.
At Main Line Health, we believe that these initiatives are helping to bridge the gap in understanding what leads to mental health stigmas while empowering those living with mental health complications to share their stories and engage in transparent conversations about their health. Our goal is to ensure that all those living with mental illnesses are seen, heard, understood, and supported with holistic, compassionate, and personalized care. We are committed to fostering a culture of compassion and inclusivity in our surrounding communities.
Resources for Patients
Main Line Health is committed to providing our communities with the care and resources they need to optimize their mental, emotional, and behavioral health. Our skilled physicians and highly trained mental health counselors are dedicated to providing all patients with compassionate, transparent, and accessible care.
Visit the Main Line Health website to learn more about available mental health care resources or to learn about the ways Main Line Health is helping our community prioritize mental and emotional health during these unprecedented times.