What You Can Do
Stop Stigma Now
- Use respectful language. Put the person before the illness – use phrases such as “a person with schizophrenia” instead of “a schizophrenic.” Never use terms like crazy, lunatic, psycho and retarded, and correct people who do so.
- Avoid labeling yourself or others. People living with a mental health disorder might say “I am depressed.” This is labeling. Saying instead “I live with depression” helps others realize that they are not their diagnosis.
- Provide professional development opportunities for staff, regarding diversity, mental health issues, and foster an inclusive work environment. Include mental illness in discussions about acceptance of diversity, just as you would discuss cultural diversity, religious beliefs, physical disability, and sexual orientation.
- Be supportive. People who live with mental illness often feel very lonely. Part of this is because others may fear the disorder and avoid talking to them. Supporting and socializing with people who have mental illnesses helps demonstrate we all have more in common than we do differences.
- Become an advocate. Create awareness by writing letters to newspapers and lawmakers. Speak out and challenge stereotypes portrayed in the media. Take it upon yourself to inform your community about the truth of mental illness.
- Teach others about mental illness. Spread understanding that these are illnesses like any other.
- Talk about it. Research finds that education campaigns about mental health issues decrease stigma but for only a limited time, while persons sharing the story of their personal experience decreases stigma on a long-term basis. When we share our stories and our families’ stories of mental health issues, we take a big step toward reducing stigma.
Participate in Mental Health First Aid Training
Many people developing a mental illness (or already living with one) may not realize they are ill, reluctant to seek help or don’t know where to turn for help. Consequently, many people who need mental health services do not get them.
What is Mental Health First Aid? MHFA training can help our community understand the signs and symptoms, how to guide someone to help and where to seek help. It’s an evidence-based mental health training designed to teach people how to help others during a mental health crisis. This training provides the learners with tools they can use to assist others through those mental health crises. The training covers signs of addictions and mental illnesses, the impact of mental and substance use disorders, a five-step action plan to assess a situation and help, local resources and where to turn for help.
How does MHFA work? Mental Health First Aid is an eight-hour interactive training that provides you with the tools to help during a mental health crisis. Mental Health First Aid is intended to be used much like First Aid and CPR, meaning you will be trained to help until professional help is available.
Who should attend? Mental Health First Aid is designed so that anyone may benefit from attending. Those who have found the training most beneficial include:
- Emergency personal (police, fire, paramedics)
- Hospital staff
- Teachers and school administrators
- Non-licensed mental health employees
- Corrections employees
- Social workers and foster care providers
- Anyone who works with the general public
Where can I find more information? For more information on Mental Health First Aid training at Family & Children’s Center, contact Craig Putz.
- ADS Center (samhsa.gov/stigma)—Resource center to address mental illness discrimination and stigma that provides practical assistance to individuals, public and private organizations in the design, implementation and operation of programs and initiatives to reduce discrimination and stigma.
- NAMI Multicultural Action Center (nami.org)—Focuses attention on system reform to ensure access to culturally competent services and treatment for all Americans and to help and support families of color who are dealing with mental illness.
- STAR Center (consumerstar.org)—Provides support, technical assistance and resources to help improve and increase the capacity of consumer-operated programs to meet the needs of persons living with mental illnesses from diverse communities.
- StigmaBusters (ame.org)—A group of dedicated advocates across the country who seek to fight the inaccurate, hurtful representations of mental illness that can be found in TV, film, print and other media. StigmaBusters’ goal is to break down barriers of ignorance, prejudice or unfair discrimination by promoting education, understanding and respect.
Some information on this page provided courtesy of National Alliance on Mental Illness.