You can help to challenge the stigma of mental illness in lots of little ways. Arm yourself with the facts to fight back against the myths and help change negative attitudes.
Get accurate information
Check out Time to Change to find out more.
Watch your language
Don’t use words that stigmatise mental illness, like nutter, looney or psycho. Sometimes we use words without realising how they might affect people, but there’s always a person behind the labels.
Be there for a friend
If you think someone you know may be affected by mental illness, make it clear that you’re there for them. Express your concern and make sure you really listen and show that you honestly care. You can help by just being a friend, offering your reassurance and emotional support.
Talk about it!
Speak to your neighbours, friends and family about mental health issues and make sure they know the truth behind all the myths and sensationalist stories.
Some common myths
“Only weak people have mental health problems.”
If this was the case, then how are people including Winston Churchill, Alistair Campbell, Annie Lennox, Paula Abdul, Frank Bruno, Ruby Wax, Stephen Fry, Paul Merton (the list goes on), who have all experienced mental health problems, successful?
“Mental health problems are for life.”
Not true. While some people may experience problems over a long period, very many people may experience a single episode of illness. This is as true of schizophrenia as it is of depression. People can and do recover from mental health problems.
“You brought it on yourself so pull yourself together.”
There are lots of different things that can contribute to someone becoming unwell, mostly without an individual’s control. Instead of looking to lay blame why not try to understand and help?
“People with mental health problems are violent.”
High profile and sensationalist media reporting feeds this myth but the sad truth is that people with mental health problems are more likely to hurt themselves than anyone else.
“People with mental health problems are weird and different.”
Well, one in six people will be experiencing a mental health problem at any one time – that’s a lot of weird people! In fact, one quarter of the world’s population will experience a mental health problem at some point in their life. If it were you, how would you like to be treated?