Mental Health Month: Help fight the stigma

 

By Chris Reese MSW, LSW
Psychiatric/Substance Abuse Social Worker

UC Health social worker Chris Reese

Chris Reese, MSW, LSW

May is Mental Health Awareness Month. According to the National Institute on Mental Health (NIMH), mental illness ranks as one of the leading causes of disability in the world, with 2.5 times more Americans suffering from a major psychiatric disorder in their lifetimes compared to cancer, diabetes, and heart disease combined.

Furthermore, evidence-based treatment of mental illness has been found to be as, if not more, effective as treatments for other illnesses. Yet the stigma attached to mental illness often limits the resources our legislators dedicate toward improving access to treatment, as well as limits engagement in treatment by those affected. In fact, only 40% of those with a mental illness are seeking treatment.

During Mental Health Month – and all year long – you can do your part to help fight that stigma and encourage those affected, both directly and indirectly, with mental illness:

  • Educate yourself and others about mental health
  • Talk openly about mental health
  • Be conscious of your language
  • Encourage equality in how people perceive physical illness and mental illness
  • Stop the criminalization of those who live with mental illness
  • Push back against the way people with mental illness are portrayed in the media
  • See the person, not the illness
  • Advocate for mental health reform

Stigma is not something that will go away on its own, but if we work together as a community, we can change the way we perceive mental illness in our society.

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