Hello! My name is Madeleine and I work for the Stigma-Free Society. We are a Canadian charity that aims to reduce stigmas of all kinds with a focus on mental health. We are very proud to have a meaningful partnership with AutismBC, an organization that does amazing work in their community.
Today I am going to give you three tips you can use right now to start living a life free of stigma around mental health.
First, let’s define stigma. Stigma is a negative judgment or stereotype about a person or a group of people that leads to discrimination.
Here are the three tips for living more stigma-free:
1. Reflect on what you already know about mental health and mental illness.
Do you have any biases about mental health and mental illness that you may not have realized before? Do any stereotypes come to mind? The first step to becoming more stigma-free is recognizing that because of the influences of our environment, society, and media, we all have biases that we might not be aware of. The important part is that we can unlearn any misinformation that we have received, and move forward with being more stigma-free! To see where you’re at in your stigma-free journey, take the Stigma-Free Tool at stigmafreesociety.com to assess your attitudes around stigma privately.
2. Talk about mental health.
The more that we talk about mental health and mental illness, the more normal it will become. You can start by bringing it up to family and friends. Ask them “how is your mental health lately?” or “what have you been doing to take care of your mental health?” Asking these simple questions will start great conversations about stigma and mental health, and will help the people around you feel comfortable sharing their own experiences with you.
“The more that we talk about mental health and mental illness, the more normal it will become.”
3. Listen to people who have lived experience with mental health.
Those who have gone through mental health challenges naturally understand them the most! You can do this by watching TEDTalks on YouTube or by reading blogs written by mental health advocates. You can also visit our Student Mental Health Toolkit and visit the Inspiring Stories section. There, you will find a variety of videos of youth and young adults sharing their personal stories of living with mental illness or facing other stigmas. They are only two to three minutes long and are a great place to start!
Thank you for reading these three tips for living more stigma-free. If you would like to learn more about the Stigma-Free Society, visit stigmafreesociety.com or follow us on social media. Have a great day!