Building Awareness and Understanding
Mental illness can strike anyone—it knows no age limits, economic status, race, creed or color. During the course of a year, more than 48 million Americans are affected by one or more mental disorders.
It is sometimes easy to forget that our brain, like all of our other organs, is vulnerable to disease. Unfortunately, because people with mental illnesses often suffer from behavioral symptoms, they are viewed differently than people with physical ailments. Instead of receiving compassion and support, people with mental illnesses may be judged and greeted by unsympathetic, unfair or hostile responses.
Much of the discrimination can be attributed a lack of awareness and understanding. Our society often perceives people with mental illness as strange, scary, and even dangerous. In fact, when people with mental illnesses are asked to identify the biggest problem they face, most say it is simply lack of acceptance.
How You Can Help
The most important thing we can do is remind people that mental health IS health, not a separate issue about which we should be ashamed.
- Use Person First Language. For example, instead of saying “the mentally ill,” say “people with mental illness.”
- Do not equate mental health conditions with violence or antisocial behavior (according to the National Institute for Mental Health, only about 5% of violent crimes are committed by individuals with a mental health diagnosis).
- Share your personal experiences with mental health issues, and encourage your friends and family members to do the same.
- Join the anti-stigma conversation on social media and include our hashtag #StopTheCrazyTalk.
- Incorporate mental health into your regular health check-ups, just like going to the dentist.
- Remember that our mental health IS our health—not a separate category.
Your membership not only supports those on a path to achieving mental wellness, it also helps increase awareness and understanding of mental illness. Learn about membership options and start taking a stand against mental health discrimination today.