The mental health sector has faced negativity from the beginning of time and, unfortunately, that negativity probably won’t go away any time soon. What people need to realize, though, is that mental health is a much bigger issue across the world. The World Health Organization and the WorldEconomic Forum reported that mental illness is the largest economic burden of all health issues worldwide. In 2010, $2.5 trillion was spent on mental health and it is projected to reach $6 trillion spent by 2030. That’s a shit ton of money. You would think that with all of that money being spent, people (especially employers) would put more emphasis on taking care of your mental health as well as their own.
Mental health stigmas can be separated into two categories; public and self. Public stigmas can often lead to self-stigmas within mental health patients.
Public Stigmas: come from negative beliefs about people with mental illness. This usually involves a negative emotional reaction or interaction. The mindset of the public stigma is that mental illness is something to be feared and contained.
Self-Stigmas: come from a person with a mental illness having negative beliefs about themselves. This often results in people with those negative beliefs not seeking proper treatment and ultimately getting worse.
Ways to Fight Mental Health Stigmas
- Proper self-care: find what works for you. Running, binge-watch Netflix, volunteer…the possibilities are endless.
- Proper treatment: there is no shame in asking for help. Finding the right course of treatment can make a world of difference, so sometimes patience is necessary.
- Self-education: do your research! But also make sure you’re getting your information from the right places.
- Be open and honest: mental health is not something to be tabooed. Helping to show that having a mental illness does not mean you can’t function in public will only aid in decreasing public stigmas.
The best way to change these stigmas is through education and training. It is common for some people to be scared of professional punishment at their workplace due to having a mental illness and they are unsure of how their boss might view it. For example, police departments are slowly starting to realize that more training on how to interact with people with a mental illness is necessary. In turn, police departments do not always consider how mental health could affect their officers. Most departments only mandate treatment once something bad has happened.
I was extremely fortunate to be a part of a team in Massachusetts working as a foster care caseworker that put self-care and mental health at the forefront of pretty much everything. Every time I went into supervision I would be asked what I was doing for my self-care. Our program director even set up outings for us which included activities like escape rooms or ending the day early to get food and drinks as a team.
When I left that job, it was very unexpected and quick due to the situation I was in. And by quick, I mean within a matter of days. I can not express how grateful I am to how my boss and co-workers responded. All they cared about was that I was safe and making the right decisions for my well being. The job I have now as a mental health worker (direct care staff) had me fill out a self-care card on my first day of orientation and asked that I have it with me while working.
Don’t let anyone dull what sparkle you have by labelling you based on your mental health. You are more than that and deserve more than that!