STIGMA. One word that can just make your skin crawl when it comes to talking about mental health. But what can you do about it?
Well…a lot. And it’s not just big things that fight stigma. It’s also little things that you can do each and every day.
So, pull out your to-do list for today and add these 3 items:
- Watch Your Language
Now, nobody is standing over you with a bar of soap ready to wash your mouth out for any verbal slip. Language takes practice, so pay attention do what you’re saying and resolve to make some good changes.
For example, don’t call your packed day “crazy” – call it “busy”. Need to make your bed perfectly in the morning? Don’t say “I have OCD” – say “I’m particular”. Maple Leafs lost…again? Don’t say “I’m depressed” – say “I’m disappointed”.
Describing everyday feelings with terms related to mental illness and stigma can be demeaning to people who really do suffer each and every day.
- Talk, talk, talk
Most of us think nothing of empathizing with someone who has a cold or the flu. But what if someone seems to be down, stressed or otherwise struggling? How would you feel about asking what’s up?
Put that in your stigma-busting toolbox – asking and then listening. Really listening. “You don’t seem yourself today. Are you OK?” or “How are you doing? You seem frazzled.” Don’t focus on fixing the problem – listen to how the person is feeling and show empathy. If you can do something to help, do it.
You’ll be opening doors to real, stigma-free conversation about mental health.
- Post, Like, Click, and Share
We’ve seen tons of things go viral – goats screaming like humans, rats eating pizza, grumpy cats, and so on. So use the power of social media for good and stomp on stigma by talking about mental health.
Share a personal journey, post a touching or inspiring video, or just say what’s on your mind when it comes to mental health. Even just telling your network that you’re open to talking can give others permission to talk as well.
Want some ideas to get started? Check out our Facebook page here and our Twitter page here and share away!