Mental Health Awareness: Shedding Stigma

Good mental health is essential to maintaining our overall health and well-being.

We all know this is true … yet real life can be complicated.

Lots of circumstances present challenges to our mental health. Relationships, work, school, and family can be sources of joy, but also sources of stress and grief. News of the world, too, can intrude on our thoughts—climate change, the economy, politics—and cause thinking that can quickly spiral into anxiety or depression.

Our emotional, psychological, and social well-being affects

  • how we think, feel, and act
  • handle stress
  • relate to others
  • make choices around food, alcohol and romance.

Our mental health (and physical health) can impact—and be impacted—by all those feelings and choices.

It’s Hard to Talk About

“Mental pain is less dramatic than physical pain, but it is more common and also more hard to bear. The frequent attempt to conceal mental pain increases the burden: It is easier to say ‘My tooth is aching’ than to say ‘My heart is broken.’” — C.S. Lewis, author

Stigma around mental health can create a reluctance to seek help or treatment and other harmful effects, including a lack of understanding from family and friends, or fewer opportunities for work, school or social activities.

On the other hand, talking about mental health can be powerful. By acknowledging that mental health struggles are common, we reduce the stigma behind getting help and feeling better. (And given that May is Mental Health Awareness Month, now’s as good a time as any for some acknowledgement.) It’s important to advocate for your own mental health, as well as the emotional wellness of people around you.

Experts at Mental Health America want everyone to know that mental health conditions are common, manageable, and treatable. Let’s break that down:

complicated brain

1. Mental Health Conditions are Common

PHMP helping hands

More on Mental Health Month

Looking for more resources? We’ve got a three-part collection of articles that might be just for you.

“What mental health needs is more sunlight, more candor, and more unashamed conversations.”
— Glenn Close, actress and mental health advocate

Mental illnesses are among the most common health conditions in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease and Prevention and an estimated one in five people will experience a mental health condition in any given year. About half of Americans will meet the criteria for a diagnosable mental health condition in their lives, with symptoms starting by age 14 for the majority of people.

While there is no singular cause for mental illness, life can create lots of risk factors, including childhood trauma or abuse, chronic medical conditions like brain injury, cancer, or diabetes, chemical imbalances in the brain, or the use of alcohol and drugs.

sort of sad guy

2. Mental Health Conditions are Manageable

“Almost everything will work again if you unplug it for a few minutes, including you.” — Anne Lamott, author

In times of hardship and stress, it’s important to take care of yourself and have tools on hand to help you cope. Mental Health America recommends building a “coping toolbox” or a list of strategies to use as soon as you start to feel anxious or distressed.

For some people, relief from might be as simple as turning to a mood booster, like creating art, listening to music, a good walk or workout, or playing with a pet. You might feel better after a healthy protein snack or a big glass of ice water. Being outside in nature is another proven method for lifting your mood.

Constant screen time—our phones, computers, and television—creates a lot of unnecessary stress in our lives, whether it’s pressure from social media or news and images designed to shock, scare or fire up anger. Learn to unplug your devices: Block social media use between certain hours, put time limits on apps, or download a website/app blocker.

But bigger problems might require more and better tools, so it’s important to seek help if your mental health issues are interfering with work, family life, or your physical health.

happy sad block

3. Mental Health Conditions are Treatable

“There is no normal life that is free of pain. It’s the very wrestling with our problems that can be the impetus for our growth.” —Mr. Rogers, children’s television pioneer

If you need help, don’t hesitate to reach out to your healthcare provider. There are lots of avenues to mental health, including group or individual counseling or psychotherapy, medication, support groups, and even some good self-help books. Sometimes it’s a combination of all of the above that will help you find relief.

Sometimes mental health is an emergency. The 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline is a national network of local crisis centers that provides free and confidential emotional support to people in suicidal crisis or emotional distress 24 hours a day, seven days a week. If you are in crisis, call or text 988 or chat 988lifeline.org.

388 Comments
  • Jennifer Thong
    Posted at 21:31h, 31 May

    Good info thanks

  • Cher Smith
    Posted at 17:57h, 28 May

    Sad topic, but informative

  • ANETA
    Posted at 13:40h, 28 May

    Thanks

  • Amanda Overholt
    Posted at 13:01h, 28 May
  • Jeanne penwell
    Posted at 12:59h, 28 May

    Great article thank you,

  • Tamika Felder
    Posted at 10:19h, 28 May

    Thanks

  • Tara Meyers
    Posted at 09:53h, 28 May

    Thank

  • Elena Desmond
    Posted at 09:48h, 28 May

    Very good information

  • Stacey Taylor
    Posted at 09:48h, 28 May

    Thanks

  • Shane+Bingham
    Posted at 08:44h, 28 May

    Great information

  • Nicholas Johnson
    Posted at 14:25h, 27 May

    Good article

  • Cyndi Varacalle
    Posted at 12:07h, 27 May

    Thank you!

  • Jay Stafford
    Posted at 00:25h, 27 May

    Good Info!

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