Mental Health Awareness Month is here! With the number of Americans experiencing mental health symptoms, it’s important to be an ally to those who suffer from mental health conditions. This year, Premera is focused on reducing the stigma around mental health. So, how can you help?
Sometimes the biggest hurdle to tackling stigma around mental health is the lack of awareness. Mental illnesses have a wide range of symptoms, severity, and treatments. It’s important to understand the impact of mental illness so that people feel encouraged to reach out for support.
Some fast facts:
- 1 in 5 U.S. adults experience mental illness each year
- 50% of all lifetime mental illness begins by age 14, and 75% by age 24
- Suicide is the 2nd leading cause of death among people aged 10-34
Lead with empathy
When loved ones are opening up about their struggles, listen with intent. It’s not easy to be vulnerable and share that you need help, so make sure to not interrupt and respond how you would want someone to respond if you were disclosing something difficult. Asking what they need from you – whether it’s listening, researching a therapist, or ride to the doctor can change your loved one’s life for the better.
Watch your words
Defining someone by their diagnosis perpetuates the negativity surrounding mental illness and discourages people from getting help, instead resigning to the labels placed upon them. For example, rather than saying “they’re depressed”, say “they live with depression”. In general, it’s also wise to avoid using disrespectful words when discussing mental health such as “crazy”, “psycho”, and “schizo” to not devalue the experiences of people that are suffering.
Whether it’s sharing your own mental health journey, donating to a local cause, or volunteering for a hotline, there are endless ways to get involved in fighting the stigma around mental health. For more ideas and finding local opportunities, visit nami.org.