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Mental Health and Stigma

Stigma plays a huge part in why people often don’t talk about mental health, there are 2 types of stigma when it comes to mental health social stigma and self-stigma.

Social Stigma: includes the negative attitudes and discriminatory behaviors that society or particular individuals hold towards those with mental health problems.

Self-stigma: This is where people with mental health problems believe what is being said about their condition and agree with their viewpoints. Self-stigma can result in delays or the avoidance of seeking help for their condition due to the fear of being rejected or humiliated. [1]

The effects of stigma can be far reaching and hold people back from getting help, one way to tackle this is to talk more about mental health, be more open about our own thoughts on mental health and how we can help each other. This reduces social stigma and self-stigma.

Stigma against those with mental health conditions takes many forms: from the unkind word to social exclusion. Research has shown that stigma makes it more difficult for people to find or return to employment, find somewhere to live, make friends or be involved in social activities. Stigma negatively impacts a person’s self-esteem and they may feel devalued.

Stigma against family members is also very common with family members often concealing the mental health difficulties of loved ones.

Mental health stigma thrives on lack of knowledge and understanding, negative attitudes and hostile or discriminatory behaviour.[2]

How can we work towards reducing these stigmas?

Be aware of the words used when talking about mental health, avoid using words that can be demeaning or insulting. Consider using language that is more open and not so negative. Instead of dismissing a person’s problems, listen to them, ask would they like to go for a coffee and talk, make it aware that you are there to listen and then try to signpost them to the appropriate help.

Educate ourselves on mental health issues, it’s so easy these days to find more information on mental health, from books, TedTalks, Podcasts, articles and documentaries. All of these resources can be found on our website in the additional resources section.

Stand up and speak out against stigma when you come across it. This can be difficult at first but keep calm and politely point out what you find wrong with what you just heard or seen.

Start conversations about mental health with co-workers, maybe you can pass out information in your work place about mental health. Share what helps you overcome poor mental health with people.

I think the key to reducing mental health is education on mental health, which is why we have created the EUNOIA project, to help tackle mental health stigma within the workplace. The more we educate ourselves on mental health the better we can reduce the stigma surrounding it.

[1] (First Aid for Mental health book, Instructuk Resources Ltd. Feb 2021)
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