April 9, 2022
Reducing Stigma Around Mental Health Disorders
Suzanne Vickers, LISW-S; Ohio State Employee Assistance Program

Over the past two years during this pandemic, more and more people have reached out for mental health support. Still, only 50% of people with mental illness seek help. Recently, we have seen public figures, like athletes, speaking about their mental health challenges. The more we talk about it, the easier it will be for people to reach out for support. Some of the effects of stigma are people are reluctant to seek help, they are worried that they will appear “weak” or broken, they have concerns for job opportunities, they fear others might think that they are just making up excuses, they don’t want to be pitied, and finally, they fear that people may think they may have made a decision to be, for example, depressed, rather than think they may be suffering from a disorder.

Ongoing organizational and community conversations on the impact of mental illness is one way we can reduce the stigma of mental illness. Mental disorders are not adjectives. For example: instead of saying “sorry I’m so scattered, I’m so ADD today,” say “I’m feeling overwhelmed and finding it hard to concentrate.” Instead of saying “why are you acting so crazy?” say “You’re not acting like yourself.” Take a look at the language you use and the connotation or feeling those words trigger.

“Research shows that knowing or having contact with someone with mental illness is one of the best ways to reduce stigma. Individuals speaking out and sharing their stories can have a positive impact. When we know someone with mental illness, it becomes less scary and more real and relatable.”

The National Association of Mental Illness (NAMI) suggests the following ways to start to address stigma:

  • Talk about it on social media platforms
  • Respond to others by sharing facts when they have a misperception or make a negative statement about mental illness
  • Watch the language you choose to use
  • Provide empathy to those who have a mental illness
  • Make comparisons to mental and physical illnesses to show that neither is a choice and both effect the well-being of the individual
  • Normalize getting treatment for mental health issues just like any other healthcare treatment

The Ohio State Employee Assistance Program (EAP) offers a workshop on Mental Health Awareness, one for staff and the other for managers, that focuses on how to help those who are struggling with a mental health issue. The next Mental Health Awareness training for staff is on May 17 at 10:30 a.m. Click here to register in Link to Health.

You can always reach out to us for five confidential complimentary counseling sessions with our internal team or a counselor in your zip code area. You may call 800-678-6265 answered 24/7, option 2 to schedule or go online here





Image credit: istockphoto.com