In today’s society, it is so easy for us to connect to individuals from all walks of life. Technology has made it seamless for us to communicate with those across the world. This allows us to learn more about different cultures, increase our education on worldwide history, and understand that as people, we aren’t so different from one another when it comes to human nature.
With all these positive aspects of increased communication in our society, there comes a negative side effect. No matter how hard we try not to, it is in our human nature to judge others. Judgment is an automated response that our brain has to the people, places, and experiences around us. Managing that judgment can at times be very difficult, especially when we aren’t as familiar with a person, their situation, or their lifestyle. This is especially true when it comes to mental health.
Although it is estimated that 1 in 5 people in Canada will personally experience a mental health problem or illness (cmha), there is still a major stigma around mental health.
So how can we manage this stigma while dealing with a mental illness? In this blog we discuss the stigma around mental health in our society, and how you can learn to support yourself despite the stigma.
STIGMA & SOCIETY
What is a stigma? Stigma is when an individual views another in a negative way because of their mental illness. This can lead to discrimination and prejudice towards those with a mental illness.
In Canada it is estimated that by age 40, about 50% of the population will have or have had a mental illness (cmha).
With so many Canadians affected, why do so many judge others on their mental state? This behaviour comes from a lack of education and understanding. Despite a large portion of the population either experiencing mental illness or having a loved one affected by mental illness, it can be difficult to understand why or how a person may have a certain disorder. For those who are experiencing this stigma first hand, it can be very damaging to their mental health and affect their day-to-day life. What we can do is advocate for those who are experiencing a mental illness, and advocate for ourselves.
In addition to advocating for ourselves and our loved ones, we can also find support despite this stigma surrounding mental health.
Stigma prevents 40% of people with anxiety or depression from seeking medical help. (camh)
If you find you are struggling with finding support, there are ways you can find assistance without raising your stress level or anxiety:
Confide in a loved one
If you find you are struggling with mental health and too anxious to seek support, you can start by confiding in a friend or family that you know will listen and support you. This can be difficult for those who are not comfortable with speaking about their feelings to others, but you may be surprised to learn that you are not alone and there are those around you who want the best for you and will support you in your healing journey.
There is a large community online of supportive people who are experiencing mental illness and directly dealing with stigma in their daily life. In addition to online communities, the Canadian government has provided resources that anyone can access at any time.
You can talk to a mental health professional one on one by calling 1-866-585-0445 or by texting WELLNESS to 686868 for youth or 741741 for adults.
You can find more specific communication tools and support at Canada.ca. This link includes resources and educational links for Indigenous peoples, for youth and adults, parents and guardians, specific contacts for your province or territory.
Technology now allows us to seek professional help from the comfort of our own home without raising our level of stress or anxiety. Online counselling can also add additional privacy, make it more accessible for those with mobility issues, and is an added convenience for those with very busy schedules. To read more about the benefits of online counselling, check out our Strength Counselling blog 6 Benefits of Online Counselling.
Despite a large portion of Canadians experiencing mental illness, whether directly or through a loved one, the stigma around mental health is still a major problem that many of us deal with on a daily basis. Although this social stigma exists, there are ways to seek support that benefit you, your lifestyle, and your mental health. If you would like to discuss mental health disorders, or mental health stigma with our team, or talk to a professional for more information, please contact us HERE.