Progress Towards Erasing Stigma
Part of the progress we have seen with reducing stigmatization is directly attributed to social media and news outlets expanding their coverage regarding the importance of mental health. These channels have successfully become a platform for many celebrities to openly discuss their personal struggles with anxiety, depression, and other mental illnesses. As a result, more people were willing to seek therapeutic support during this past decade (2010-2019) compared to before, with greater numbers coming from millennials and Gen Z generations as compared to baby boomers and Gen X folks.
Here are some of the events that changed our views on mental health this past decade:
1. Incidents of Death by Suicide: Sadly, several beloved public figures ended their life by suicide
including Robin Williams, Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain. These tragic losses yielded monumental conversations about mental health and triggered a greater awareness about the stigma around this topic and the importance of seeking help. Their deaths also served a reminder that mental illness affects everyone regardless of age or socioeconomic status.
2.TV Shows that Address Mental Health: Television programming also tackled mental illness like never before. Shows like “This is Us”, “13 Reason’s Why”, and “You’re the Worst” displayed the complex realities of living with a mental illness. Some of these shows also helped normalize the need for seeking therapy from a licensed professional.
3. The Rise of Social Media Platforms: The influence of social media has increased exponentially during the past 10 years. While social media has served as a tool for bullying and unhealthy personal comparisons, it has also become a platform where many discuss their own mental health experiences. Additionally, it hosts a wealth of resources and access to information that benefit the public seeking mental health support.
4. Celebrities Opening Up About Their Own Mental Health: The rise of celebrity candor about their personal experiences has been one of the most positive advances in mental health in the last decade. Celebrities like Ellen DeGeneres (Show Host/Comedian), Dwayne Johnson (Actor), Lady Gaga (Singer), Ryan Reynolds (Actor), and Mariah Carey (Singer) among others have actively shed light on mental health issues to help normalize the need for support.
5 Ways You Can Fight Stigma in Our Community:
1. Talk Openly About Mental Health: Chances are you or a loved one has had experience
with a mental illness. Don’t be afraid to share these experiences with others and
communicate honestly about the challenges faced as well as the benefits of seeking
2. Educate Yourself and Others: Seek opportunities to learn more about mental health and
share your knowledge with others. Joining in conversations with friends, family, and
coworkers can help reduce the negative views they might have regarding mental illness.
3. Be Conscious of the Language: The language we use matters a great deal! It is important
to avoid using mental health conditions as adjectives for people. Avoid using words like
“psycho”, “schizo”, “crazy”, “lunatic” as these terms can be offensive and are often inaccurate
when it comes to describing someone with a mental illness. Framing the illness beyond the
individual can be powerful. Using phrases like “a person who has experienced psychosis” or
“a person who has schizophrenia” can be a game-changer.
4. Show Compassion for Those with Mental Illness: Treat people who have a mental health
condition as you would individuals who suffer a physical ailment. The simple act of showing
understanding and affection can make a significant difference in reducing stigmatization. It is
vital to never forget the humanity of those who are suffering.
5. Support Mental Health Initiatives: Actively participating in community events surrounding
mental health can be a powerful tool for change. PFA and other local organizations regularly
hosts educational sessions, workshops, walks, outreach, and fundraising events with the
hopes of increasing mental health awareness and access to quality services. Taking the
time to be part of these events throughout the year can help reframe mental health among
One thing is evident, positive change comes from collective efforts. We all have the power to make a difference. As Mahatma Gandhi stated, “Be the change that you wish to see in the world”. Join PFA and continue to support mental health in our community.
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