Have you broken up with mental health stigma?

There are a number of things people say that indicate they hold onto mental health prejudices, many of which they are unaware of.

About four years ago, a friend of mine was talking about multiple psych hospitalizations. Then he realized he had not said it was about his daughter and quickly interjected, “I’m not talking about me, of course, it was my daughter who was in and out of the hospital.”

I responded, “And if it was you, we’d be OK with that because it would mean you had taken care of your mental health.” He froze for a second, realizing his on bias. I have to give him credit for instantly recognizing that and later mentioning it to me.

Do you still use the phrase, “committed suicide?” Do you still say “drug addict?” Do you make references to people with mental illness as being “crazy?” Do you say, “I’m so OCD today!” How do you react to or treat someone who lost a child to cancer versus one who lost a child to suicide or accidental drug overdose?

What’s the problem? Because of stigma, those who suffer feel shame and don’t seek help. When they don’t seek help from depression or addiction, the chance of death increases.

Self-correction for our own prejudices and word use errors is OK. In fact, acknowledgement of that is a way to educate and show our own willingness to make change.

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Published by

Anne Moss Rogers

I am the mother of two boys and the owner of emotionally naked, a site that reached a quarter million people in its first 18 months. I am a writer and professional public speaker on the topics of suicide, addiction, mental illness, and grief and currently working on getting a book published. I lost my youngest son, Charles, 20, to suicide June 5, 2015. As talented and funny as Charles was, letting other people know they matter was his greatest gift. And now the legacy I try and carry forward in my son's memory.

6 thoughts on “Have you broken up with mental health stigma?”

  1. The stigma is so prevalent, thank you Anne Moss for helping spread the word! I’ve also noticed how lightly people toss around the idea of killing themselves, like it’s a joke. In my yoga class, people were talk about the lack of appropriate elder care, and one woman made a “joke” about wandering out onto the train tracks instead. Everyone but me thought she was hilarious. I don’t go to yoga anymore.

    1. Oh my gosh. When someone says that, even joking, I do take them aside and ask them, “Are you thinking of suicide?” I want them to know that I take those comments seriously no matter what. This is a great point, Stacy. Thank you for mentioning it.

  2. End the stigma. People forget to realize their illness is not who they really are.They are beautiful intelligent people who are struggling.

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