How Can We Tackle Mental Health Stigma?

mental health stigma

Mental illness is common, and it will affect one in four people at some point in their lives. Figures from the Mental Health Foundation show that depression affects around one in 12 people and that mental illness affects 450 million people globally.

But even though mental illness touches so many lives, there is still a lot of stigma around it which often leads to discrimination against those who are ill. Stigma and discrimination can make mental health issues worse and make recovery from them even harder.

The effects of stigma

People with mental illness can face stigma and discrimination from their family and friends, in the workplace, and from society in general. Almost nine out of ten people who suffer from a mental illness say that stigma and discrimination has affected their lives very negatively.

The facts make for unpleasant reading. People with a mental illness are the least likely group among people with long-term illness or disabilities to find a job, maintain a relationship, live in good housing, and be included in mainstream society. And why is this? It’s because of society’s view of the mentally unwell. Many people wrongly believe that people with a mental illness are violent or dangerous, when in fact they are more likely to harm themselves than anyone else. Portrayals and representations of people with mental illness in the media don’t help. How many times have you seen a headline about a ‘violent schizophrenic’ or seen a character on a soap being portrayed as dangerous and out of control?

How to challenge stigma

The key to challenging stigma and discrimination is increasing awareness of mental health and educating people, so that people who are suffering from mental health problems feel able to talk about it and ask for help. This will also have the added effect of challenging a lot of the ignorance and fear around mental illness.

We can do this by:

Getting educated about mental health

Mental Health Awareness and Mental Health First Aid training can educate people about how to recognise mental illness in themselves or in others, and how they can help in a crisis situation.

Talking about mental health

Asking how people are makes it easier for people to talk about their own experiences, whether it’s friends and family or colleagues. This goes a long way  to challenging stigma and making mental health less of a taboo subject.

Telling other people about what you’ve learned

Challenge myths and stereotypes about mental health by talking to others about what you have learned either from mental health awareness training or from doing your own research on it. It might just make people think differently about mental illness, the prejudices they have, and the negative language they might use.

Supporting people

Treat people who are ill with the same kind of dignity and respect that you would want if you were in their shoes. If someone you know is experiencing mental health problems, support them to get the help they need and support their efforts to recover.

Educating people and raising awareness of mental health issues are the key to tackling stigma. The more acceptable it is to talk about mental health, the more the ignorance, myths, and fear can be challenged.

Train with us

Our accredited training courses aim to raise awareness about mental health and empower people to talk about it.

Whether you’re a global company looking for a programme of staff training, or a local charity looking for a one-off training session, Traincon Learning can work with you to deliver the learning your organisation needs.

We’re professional, we’re friendly, and we are so proud of the work we do. We aim to provide every organisation with a high-quality and truly worthwhile learning experience.

Contact us today to find out what we can do for your organisation.

Bridget Woodhead