Stigma thrives among silence and misinformation. While roughly one in five Americans suffer from mental illness, the voices needed to spark public awareness regarding the topic remain scattered. Meanwhile, any mainstream talk of mental matters is still often ill-informed.
This article discusses simple ways we can increase unfiltered mental health awareness from the grass root level.
DO NOT BE INTIMIDATED!
The first step in an unpopular journey is always the toughest: especially when we are programmed into radio silence regarding our psychological health. While such resistance threatens the stories we’ve lived from reaching others in need, it only takes that small, yet all-important forward step to ignite a revolution.
If the thought of sharing those innermost struggles frightens you, however, start small.
Just by sharing your mental health experiences in an online forum, through social media, or at a group meeting, you can chip away at that glaring stigmatic wall.
START A BLOG OR YOUTUBE CHANNEL DEDICATED TO MENTAL HEALTH AWARENESS
For readers that are less reserved about raising their advocacy voice, several online outlets provide high-visibility platforms. Some of the best mental health content comes from YouTube and niche blog sites (hopefully, S.B. is quickly becoming one.)
From personal experience, following decades of repressed and shunned emotions, I needed -not wanted- to write my first book, Living Hell Stigma, and launch this website. Although, I’m more inclined as an author than the speaker, for you loquacious types the podcasting and video streaming world can be a boon to growing awareness.
These online mediums are all uber useful tools in today’s fast-breaking, tech-oriented world.
WRITE AN EBOOK
If you are a little more old-school and have the time, there is growing interest in mental health ebooks.
Following years of sports website editing and blogging, I penned Living Hell Stigma in June. While my hypomania might’ve rushed the book’s completion, sharing intimate mental health views with a wider audience helped slay some personal demons.
If you feel writing a book is too time-consuming or difficult, trust me, the process is worth the sacrifice. Moreso, I find in-depth reads featuring another person’s psychological experience ultra fascinating.
That said, email me if you’d like free advice on how to organize, write, edit and publish your own unique story. I’d love to help.
While sharing mental health experiences at group settings or through various online methods is essential to spreading awareness, volunteering one’s time in-person is just as important. More analog ways to help others in need include crisis line work and reaching out to high-risk groups such as homeless shelters and nursing homes.
The powerful act of lending yourself to those experiencing an acute crisis, financial hardship, or loneliness can create massive positive impacts. Kind words and actions tend to multiply. Keep that in mind when a struggling family member or friend experiences hardship.
WATCH YOUR WORDS
Our culture embeds us with stigmatizing language. From the time we begin speaking, defeatist words like ‘crazy’, ‘insane’, ‘psycho’, ‘mental’, ‘schizo’, etc. become common utterances. We know such phrases carry destructive undertones.
It is these words that bolster stigma and complicate our journey toward larger mental health awareness. The best way to disarm society’s inhospitable language is to just stop speaking it. Simple.
Instead of using those trite adjectives, choose more compassionate expressions.
We need that personal reform because, unfortunately, the political correctness surrounding us hasn’t extended its full attention to mental health circles. Though, if twenty percent of the population -and our supporters and loved ones- phase out harmful descriptors, we will all prosper.
Another effective way to spread mental health awareness is through community and political activism. And in this case, strength in numbers is more than a cliche.
The more of us that choose to peacefully gather and make our voices reverb, the more impactful our message becomes. In addition, writing well-crafted letters seeking mental health reform to our local elected officials is a great pathway toward positive change.
With one-fifth of the population suffering from mental illness, there’s little reason we cannot make a far larger dint in erasing stigma. Yet, to do so, we must each find our chosen platform to spread mental health awareness.
Whether it’s blogging, book writing, volunteering time, using more compassionate words, or finding an activism route, together we can shift our culture’s mental health perception and spread the gospel.
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I used to journal when younger. After reading your article I plan on implementing this in my daily life.
Thanks, Amy. I cannot emphasize enough how important writing is to our mental health. Thanks for reading!