In the past few decades, the scientific understanding of mental health has changed drastically. Conditions like substance use disorders, bipolar disorders, depression and anxiety used to be considered moral failures or character flaws. Only a century ago, those with mental illnesses were excluded and treated with isolation or sent to asylums.
Even though our understanding of mental illness has improved, there is still a social stigma associated with it. There are still common misconceptions about the origins and behaviors of mental health disorders, which can lead to poor treatment and discrimination on personal and institutional levels.
For those who are affected by depression and suicidal thoughts, the effect of stigma is serious. In fact, it can be deadly if it prevents a person from seeking treatment due to social fear.
Spreading awareness about mental health conditions, like depression and suicidality, can change public perception and reduce stigma. Read on to learn about the importance of mental health awareness and how to support those who are suffering.
The importance of mental health awareness
While our culture is shifting toward acceptance of mental health conditions, there is still an underlying and pervasive negative attitude that lingers around mental illness. According to the American Psychological Association, common stereotypes include the belief that those with mental illness are incompetent, dangerous, erratic, unpredictable and to be blamed for their conditions.
Reversing these misconceptions about mental illness can provide numerous benefits on a large and small scale, from personal interactions to affecting nationwide policies. Increasing depression and suicide awareness could have the following positive effects.
- Greater awareness of the causes of mental illness
- Improved services for those struggling with mental health
- More funding for studies and treatment
- Greater access to resources
- Focus on evidence-based treatment
- Increased opportunities for those with mental illness (such as career or educational opportunities)
- Decreased discrimination in policy (such as housing policies)
- Improved self-esteem for those facing mental illness
- Sense of empathy for the families of those who have a mental illness or have died by suicide
- Decreased symptoms and improved quality of life for those struggling
- Greater likelihood that those affected will seek help through professional mental health treatment
Depression and suicide awareness can help many people, including those affected by mental illness, their families, care providers, doctors, therapists, social workers, policymakers and so forth.
How to raise awareness of mental health
If you’re hoping to spread awareness about these important causes and advocate for those who suffer from mental illness, here are some ideas for how to raise awareness of mental health.
1. Have in-person conversations
While there are many ways to express an opinion online, having conversations with people one-on-one is more likely to open a dialogue and create change. These conversations shouldn’t begin as debates, especially if you are aware that stereotypes and stigmas are present.
2. Use social media wisely
While social media won’t necessarily change anyone’s opinion on mental illness, it may be a good tool to provide facts and resources to your followers or provide opportunities to show support. Consider posting the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline, encouraging quotes, facts about evidence-based treatment or links to treatment centers, like High Focus Centers.
3. Reflect when it’s relevant
When the conversation arises naturally, it’s appropriate to use the opportunity to discuss suicide and depression awareness. For example, your coworker may be discussing a TV show that depicts mental illness. You can use this opportunity to express the severity of depression and promote a scientific understanding of the character in the TV show.
4. Share your personal experience
If you are currently struggling with mental illness or have in the past, your witness can be eye-opening for someone who harbors biases against those with mental illness. You should never feel forced to share outside of your comfort level, but your story could be a powerful message to many people.
Many charitable organizations are dedicated to raising awareness for mental health and related issues. Donating to these causes is one of the best ways to make effective change, especially if you’re not comfortable with being open about the subject yet.
6. Express your support for evidence-based care
If you know individuals in your personal life who are facing depression or mental illness, perhaps the best way to show support is by encouraging professional treatment. Mental illness rarely heals on its own, and most conditions tend to get worse if left unaddressed and untreated. Just like you would encourage a friend to see a doctor for physical pain, you should promote treatment for psychological distress, too.
7. Learn from reputable sources
If you’ve found yourself becoming passionate about spreading awareness for mental health, it’s crucial that you keep yourself informed. Studies are always being conducted that illuminate the reality of mental health disorders, their causes, manifestations and how to best treat them. Use sources like medical journals, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Alliance on Mental Illness.
Treatment for mental health
If you or someone you love is struggling with mental illness you’ve likely encountered the sting of stigma. It can be difficult to manage societal bias in addition to the symptoms that come with a disorder. Reversing the effects of stigma, stereotypes and discrimination is always the goal of advocating for depression and suicide awareness, thereby allowing those who struggle to improve their quality of life and decrease symptoms.
Looking for treatment for a mental health disorder? High Focus Treatment Centers provides care through in-person and virtual outpatient treatment. Experienced staff used personalized treatment plans to meet each client’s unique needs. Call today to learn more.