Well Being

Stop the stigma

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?

Educate yourself

Sometimes the biggest hurdle to tackling the 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. If need be, talk to a therapist to understand the impact of mental illnesses. You can find one at Better Help. The best part is that they offer coupons so that individuals can afford the consultation with the professionals (you can find them here).

Keep in mind that it is important to understand the plight of people suffering from mental disorders. They should not be made to feel discouraged about their issues. Instead, they should be encouraged to open up about their emotions .

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

Not sure where to start? National Alliance on Mental Health (NAMI) and National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) are great resources.

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 riding to the doctor can change your loved one’s life for the better. Keep in mind that this is the time to show empathy. You need to stand by them to show your solidarity towards their crisis. Moreover, this is the time to fill them up with the right kind of advice that can help them in the future. For instance, you can suggest they consider opting for therapy sessions. Also, advise them regarding opting for something like a Medicare Supplement Plan N, which can help cover the costs of their medical needs.

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. No one likes to be labelled as mentally disabled and some might not even appreciate their mind being constantly prodded for problems and solutions. They might rather opt for psychosocial disability support so that the workforce team can exactly undermine the routeing problem and work towards helping them out both physically and mentally. So, what does your role play in this? 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.

Get involved

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.