To begin addressing stigmatizations and discrimination that surround mental health, we must be willing to break down barriers and begin having these difficult and uncomfortable, but necessary conversations. Before all else- each person that walks this earth deserves a level of compassion, understanding, empathy, sympathy, and support, despite their mental health condition. Similarly, how physical illnesses are recognized and treated, mental health challenges are just as legitimate and must be acknowledged.
Stigmatization feeds on ignorance and misconceptions. It fraudulently labels people as weak, unstable, or dangerous. Having a negative perception perpetuates discrimination and prevents people from seeking the help they need. Mental health conditions are not to be confused with character or personal failure. They are medical conditions that can affect anyone, regardless of their age, gender, race, sexual orientation, or socioeconomic status.
We must begin to replace judgment with empathy, support, and replace judgmental language with words of encouragement. By facilitating these sorts of conversations, it creates a safe space for people to share their concerns or struggles without the fear of being judged negatively for deciding to reach out for help.
Education plays a critical role in combating stigmatizations. Learning about mental health conditions, their symptoms, and available treatments will aid in cultivating steps on how to move forward as a society. Understanding the experiences of people living with mental health challenges, we can begin to debunk myths, challenge stereotypes, and promote inclusivity.
Mental health affects us all, whether directly or indirectly. It’s time for us to amplify the importance of prioritizing mental health. Please remember that being vulnerable with ‘strangers’ can be very scary or intimidating, as it takes courage for people to ask for help. Let's build a community that embraces, uplifts, and empowers one another. Together, we can manufacture a world free from stigmatization and discrimination; a place where everyone can thrive and enjoy the quality of life that they deserve.