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Mental Health Month: 5 ways to raise awareness.

Published May 8, 2020


Every May, we raise awareness for mental health and come together to inspire hope and work toward a stigma-free community. Here are five things you can do to improve the mental wellness of everyone.

1.       Understand the impact of stigma on people with mental health challenges. Mental illness is very common. About half of us will have a diagnosable mental health condition within our lifetime, but many people do not get the help they need because of the fear, shame and discrimination they face from their family, community or society. On average, it takes 11 years from the onset of symptoms before someone reaches out for help.

2.       Challenge the myths and stereotypes surrounding mental illness. Labels perpetuate stigma. Knowing the signs and symptoms of different diagnoses gives insight into what it is to experience a mental illness. In addition to learning what defines a particular diagnosis, listen to and affirm the stories of people who live with mental health challenges. Each person’s journey with recovery is unique and many people reach their life goals.

3.       Learn to be intentional with your language. The words we use to describe our world are powerful. Words like “crazy,” “insane,” “schizo,” or phrases like “my ex is so bipolar” or “my OCD” are harmful and minimize the experiences of someone living with mental illness. Being intentional with your language isn’t being the “word police,” it is about creating a where people can exist without feeling judged and live free of painful self-stigma. Challenge yourself to speak using accurate terms when talking about mental illness and use people first language.

4.       Create a mental wellness plan. Regardless if you have a diagnosis, we all have mental health we need to take care of to live well. Find what mindfulness and coping skills work best for you. Research local mental health resources so you know in advance where to turn for help when you or a loved one are in crisis.

5.       Practice kindness and compassion. Studies show that engaging in acts of kindness reduces the negative effects of stress on both the body and emotions. Reducing stress can increase a person’s drive to be social with others, lessening the impacts of self-isolation.

Stay tuned to Stand Against Stigma social media for Shasta County events happening later this month and become a part of the movement for better mental wellness in our community. 

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