Breaking the Mental Health Stigma

Mental health is becoming a buzz word in society and is becoming a topic of discussion in schools, the work place and the government. Naturally, we all want to be happy and feel at our best when we are, so dealing with our mental health is a must.

Even though we are all human and ultimately all want to be happy, there is still a negative cloud that hangs over our, and society’s ability to confidently and openly deal with the things that stand in the way of our happiness.

What is stigma?
Stigma is a mark of disgrace or discredit that sets a person apart from others. It involves negative stereotypes and prejudice. Stigma results from fear and mistrust of differences.
Stigma leads to social exclusion and discrimination. Discrimination is the unfair treatment of a person or group on the basis of prejudice, and can affect everyone. (Mental Health Commission of Canada)
Mental health stigma specifically deals with negatively viewing another person, or making someone out to be an outcast because of a mental health issue that they are experiencing and/or dealing with.

Why should you care about breaking the mental health stigma?
A stigma against mental health can directly affect you, a friend or a loved one, regardless if you are dealing with a mental health issue or not. This negative view on mental health makes it harder for individuals to discuss topics related to their happiness and any anxiety, stress or feelings of sadness that they may be experiencing.

If we cannot openly discuss our experiences and feelings, people who are feeling sad or stressed will be less likely to seek help from friends, family or professionals when they need it most. People who want to talk about their feelings may avoid doing so because they are scared of being judged or losing a friend, because there is something ‘wrong’ with them.

Getting Help
Feeling anxious, stressed or sad is a normal part of life that can happen from time to time. If you are experiencing feeling or emotions that don’t feel normal or right to you, you should never feel ashamed, guilty or scared to speak to someone. If you don’t feel comfortable talking to a friend or family member there are plenty of resources in your community, with caring and friendly people that are ready to help you.

You can do a quick online search for resources in your community. Try using some of these key words: mental health resources, mental health help, how to deal with stress etc.

You can also use the following resources:
Kids Help Phone Line, 1-800-668-6868
Distress Center Ottawa, Open 24/7, City of Ottawa (613-238-3311)
Website for resources: www.ementalhealth.ca

(Author: Lindsey Thomson. Post originally created for www.myblueprint.ca online blog)

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