This is a guest blog on the site Black Dog Tribe, which works to stop stigma and change mental health.
How YOU Can Help Fight Mental Health Stigma
Guest blogger Matthew Morris is a mental health counselor in Brooklyn, NY. He works at a hospital in his community, and also runs a career website for certified nurse assistants. We thank him for his blog about how anyone can help eradicate mental health stigma.
Most of us in the mental community understand stigma: we either face it as part of our daily routine, work with people who face it, or have family members who face it.
But how would we explain mental health stigma, if asked?
As a social worker at a mental health clinic, I am tasked with that job frequently. Here’s what I say:
“The stigma against those who have mental health disorders is a type of prejudice, wherein others consider people with mental illnesses to be helpless, or unstable, or even dangerous. The stigma is based on inaccurate portrayals on people with mental illness in various media outlets, including movies, tv, and local and national news.”
Sounds professional, right? I’ve got my answer down. Here’s the important part:
“Stigma has an incredibly damaging effect on the lives of those who suffer from mental illness. They may be excluded from social groups, disallowed educational opportunities, and unfairly denied career advancement. They may even suffer from self-stigma, which occurs when people with mental illness begin to believe the inaccurate messages sent to them, and begin to see themselves as helpless, or unstable, or even dangerous.”
I spent some time trying to capture every aspect of stigma in that quick paragraph. The truth is, though, that teaching people about the existence of stigma is the least important part of my job.
The most important part of my job is helping, day by day, to eradicate it. Here’s what I’ve been taught to do, and here’s what you can do to eradicate mental health stigma.
Read on here for Matthew’s advice: http://blackdogtribe.com/people-like-you/how-you-can-help-fight-mental-health-stigma#sthash.Fe5DMsap.dpuf