This extract is taken from an interview with Breaking the Stigma – “a website for all that aims to target mental illness and support people in need”:
“Stigma is a huge problem for people of all ages who are trying to understand mental health and the impact it can have on your life. Now that social media has become the principal method that most use to communicate or express their views, it has become increasingly easy for people to generalise mental health and dismiss it as something weak and unimportant.
The Internet has become a very accessible place to talk about mental health, allowing many people to share their experiences with others. However, it can also be an extremely harmful environment, allowing people to anonymously insult and discourage others from the comfort of their laptops. It has the potential to become a very productive place as long as stricter controls are applied.
I think that mental health is starting to become a more approachable topic in the media, but it definitely has a long way to go yet. Many aspects are often avoided or forgotten, therefore you could argue that only a small portion of those with mental illnesses are represented.
Social media has certainly seen a rise in people discussing anxiety and depression more openly and willingly. However, diagnoses such as OCD, Bipolar Disorder, and Schizophrenia are still widely misunderstood and generalised. Also, the dismissal of men’s mental health is especially difficult to comprehend as it affects so many people.
To combat the feelings of shame tied to mental illness, we must first open the discussion on mental health so that everyone can feel included and unashamed.
Secondly, ensure that schools teach students about the importance of prioritising their mental health, just as much as they would their physical health. Not only will this help each individual, but it would also make it easier for the discussion on mental health to be opened up for future generations.
We must also ensure that there is a support network for anyone suffering, or for anyone with a friend or relative that is suffering, is incredibly important to make sure that they don’t feel distanced or unapproachable.“
Read more of my interview with Breaking the Stigma: On Supporting Someone Through Mental Illness
What is your experience of mental health stigma? How do you think it might be tackled?