By: Ashley London & Sherry Fleydervish
About 1 in 5 of us will experience a mental health issue. That means someone dear to you like a loved one, friend, or colleague may be dealing with a mental health condition.
Ashley’s longtime friend has been struggling for 15 years with hiding her symptoms of bipolar disorder. She not only hides them from her family and loved ones, but every day at work she finds herself isolated from her colleagues. She feels helpless, worthless, and ashamed. Her manic episodes involve a state of productivity and euphoria, yet she feels like she can never ground herself with anyone around her. During her episodes of depression, she falls into a state of hopelessness and loses all sense of self-worth. Yet one of the most devastating aspects of her condition is the stigma that she faces. At work, she fears that her colleagues will assume that she is not capable of getting the job done. She fears that instead of her colleagues getting to know her as a person, she will be labeled by her mental illness.
Having discussions about mental health raises awareness in the community and makes a difference in the lives of individuals dealing with mental illness. Many people who struggle with mental health conditions feel isolated and worthless. Attaching stigma to a mental illness creates a harmful label on individuals that is hard to remove. The good thing is that there are a multitude of small steps we can take to reduce stigma.
These steps include…
- Educating yourself and others about mental health
- Being conscious of your language
- Seeing the person not the illness
- Advocating for mental health reform in your community
Think of a time you have stigmatized someone with a mental illness. Now think of the negative consequences that may have caused. Every day, we must work together to fight the mental health stigma that still exists in our society.