End the Stigma Around Mental Health

  • Be Mindful
  • Be Transparent
  • Be Proactive

Pledge with us to have important conversations about mental wellness with your friends, family, and loved ones.

Erasing the Stigma: Mental Wellness Conversations

Despite all the advances that have been made in recent years to educate and help the public understand depression, the sad truth is that those struggling with mental illness still face stigmas that often leave them feeling ashamed or self-conscious and hesitant to seek treatment.

 

Between September and October of 2021, more than one in three adult New Mexicans have reported symptoms of depression or anxiety.

 

Recent national surveys of young people have shown alarming increases in the prevalence of certain mental health challenges— in 2019, one in three high school students and half of female students reported persistent feelings of sadness or hopelessness, an overall increase of 40% from 2009. Of those adults struggling with mental illness, less than half get treatment. To improve those numbers, it is important for everyone to take a stand against the misperceptions behind the stigmas often associated with depression and mental illness.

So how can you help? First and foremost, it is crucial to gain perspective. When thinking about the role depression plays in you or someone else’s life, remember, depression is a physical illness, not a character trait. Like diabetes or cancer, depression needs to be carefully treated.

If you suffer from depression, remember, you are much more than your diagnosis. Your personality, talents, skills, and compassion are your defining traits – not your depression.

But you can use your illness to help others. Education is the most powerful tool you can use to counter any shame you may feel about your mental illness and to make sure others understand.

One way is to share your mental health journey with others. Sharing your story about mental illness or recovery can be empowering both for you and for others who are struggling with a mental illness. Use your story to prove that harmful stereotypes about mental illness are not true, and to encourage others to speak up and seek help. There are many ways to share your story. Here are some places you can share: https://nostigmas.org and https://thisismybrave.org/.

You can also share positive messages about mental health, either on social media or in open discussions with friends and family. Even if you have never struggled with depression or mental illness, you can be a mental health advocate.

 

Words Matter

For starters, be aware of how mental illness is discussed around you. Avoid using hurtful words and labels such as “nuts”, “crazy,” or “strange” when talking about yourself or someone else with a mental illness. Use respectful language. Instead of “the mentally ill” use “people with a mental illness.” Instead of “committed suicide” use “died by suicide.” And speak up if you hear others using harmful language.

If you suspect that someone may be in a crisis or is struggling with their mental health, send messages of support and assist them in getting the help they need. If you see someone post a status on social media that indicates they are struggling, reach out to them or someone who knows them. If you think they are jn danger of harming themselves, you can also report their post to the social media site.

As we head into the New Year, make a resolution to be part of the solution.

Support local and national mental health organizations and crisis centers. Volunteer or donate to organizations like the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance (DBSA), or the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline to support this life-saving work.

You can also start or sign a petition, write to your elected representatives, start a mental health blog, or spread mental health awareness in some other way. Organizations like the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) and the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance (DBSA) can provide ideas and support for advocacy initiatives.

 

Thank you for taking the #DoseofWellness pledge. The journey to wellness begins with talking about our mental health challenges.

Pledge Form

Remember to embrace conversations about mental health with others, and to spread the word that mental health is just as important as physical health—it’s all connected.