It’s easy to mention when we’re not feeling well. Just today you may have heard someone say, “I’ve got a headache,” or “I’m fighting a cold.” It’s a cue to others that someone is not feeling their best, and triggers within us empathy and compassion. Even longer-term health problems are often discussed casually: “I’m a diabetic,“ or “I’ve had asthma since I was a kid.” You might even say some of these things yourself. Unfortunately, not every widely experienced health challenge is discussed with such ease and openness.
Last Friday, October 10th, marked World Mental Health Day, a day to raise awareness of mental health issues and to challenge outdated views, including stigma and discrimination associated with mental illness.
According to an article from CNN, 9 out of 10 people with a mental health problem report facing stigma and discrimination because of their illness. Over half of those say that the stigma and discrimination is as bad or worse than the illness itself.
According to the World Health Organization, approximately 450 million people worldwide have a mental illness, with 350 million of those suffering from depression. Most of those people face negative reactions from family, employers and their broader communities when they disclose their illness.
When people feel safe and supported they can talk about their mental illness more openly, allowing for attitudes and behaviors toward mental illness to change through conversation and education. These conversations between those with mental illness and those without are key to breaking down barriers and clearing up misunderstandings about what mental health is, and what it is not. It is also the pathway for sufferers to get the help they need. For mothers struggling with mental health issues, the help they receive also impacts the wellbeing of their children in significant ways.
Take Action Challenge
Read the full article from CNN, and take a look at the graphics included. How has talking about mental health or listening to someone you love who is impacted by mental illness affected your life?
Infographic from CNN article