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Jennifer Ballou > Life Coaching  > Reducing Mental Health Stigma

Reducing Mental Health Stigma

This is part 2 in a series of blogs focused on Mental Health Awareness Month, which is observed during the month of May. I think it is important to mention that I am not a mental health professional and that all blogs written to support this series are based on my experiences, as well as through the reading and research I have done to support the topics chosen.

 

I received a tremendous response after sharing the first blog in this series asking for your help and suggestions to support a few talks I have in the coming months, specific to mental health and wellness. You can read that blog by clicking here.  Most of the conversations I had were focused on the topic of mental health stigma and how to best communicate with others about your (or a loved one’s) mental health.

 

In my opinion, the first thing we all need to do is educate ourselves.  Learning about mental health, the impact(s) of mental illness, how to prevent mental illness and promote good mental health is an individual responsibility.  There are many quality resources available on these topics, and based on the information below, I feel it is our responsibility to do so.

 

Do you know that according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:

 

more than 50% of people will be diagnosed with a mental illness or disorder in their lifetime?

1 in 5 Americans and 1 in 5 children will experience mental illness in a given year?

 

And, according to The National Alliance on Mental Illness:

 

nearly 1 in 4 active-duty service members showed signs of a mental health condition during a 2014 study?

 

Mental illness is common.  So many of us, or someone we deeply care about, will experience a mental health challenge or condition.  That alone is enough for me to lean forward and learn more.  Combine the data above with my personal challenges and struggles and things I have witnessed with military battle buddies over the years, it seems clear to me that we have an individual responsibility here.

 

As mentioned, I am not a trained professional in the mental health field, but I do know and believe that it will require more than just their expertise to reduce the mental health stigma.

 

How do we do that?

 

I think it starts with having conversations like the ones I have had over the last few weeks, many of which were with people I haven’t spoken with in quite some time.  The good news is that my short blog provided them the space to feel safe enough to reach out to me.  The not-so-good-news is that many of those conversations were uncomfortable because of stigma.  We all play a part here.  I found this article which includes “7 Things You Can Do to Reduce Stigma” and thought you may find it helpful.  Coincidentally, many of the suggestions include education, the words we choose to use when addressing this topic and support.  Check it out and then share below or in the comments of my social media posts what you are going to do to help reduce mental health stigma.  We all matter and together we can make a difference!

 

Stay tuned for the third blog in this series, which will include a bit about my past and most recent mental health challenges.

 

Sending joy,

Jennifer

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