Society has come a long way to accepting and supporting those with mental health struggles, but there is still a lot we can do to help. The National Alliance on Mental Health, NAMI, has many resources for anyone who is interested in working to counter stigmas that still exist around mental illness. Here are 5 things you can do in your own community to lend a hand in these efforts this month.
Pledge to be Stigma Free
In the past, mental illness has been portrayed in a negative light, which still affects our perceptions of it today. This month, team up with NAMI and pledge to be “Stigma-Free,” to show those with mental illnesses that you are a supportive ally in their mental health journey. You can post it to your social media pages, too, and tag others who will work to be stigma-free with you!
Be Open with Friends and Family
Going to therapy and taking medication for mental illness used to be something that people hid away, but it’s becoming more common to speak out about them as people’s perceptions change. One of the best ways you can change stigmas surrounding mental health is to be open with the people you care about. If you have been diagnosed with a mental illness and are receiving treatment, try talking about it with your friends and family. You may even inspire them to seek out help for their own struggles, too. If someone comes to you to tell you about their mental health conditions, reassure them that you love them and ask how you might be able to help.
Learn from those who experience mental illness
Mental Illness affects people of every race, gender, age, and cultural background. Learning all you can about mental illness is an important way to understand what people are going through. The best resource is learning directly from those affected, but if you don’t know someone personally who has spoken out about their struggles, there are still ways you can come to understand them better. NAMI has assembled stories from people of all different types of backgrounds on what it is like to live with and recover from mental illness, you can watch their videos online.
Take Part in a Walk for Mental Health Virtually
It always feels great to be part of a team! NAMI is making it possible for groups of friends and families to participate in their annual Mental Health Awareness Walk virtually this year. Challenge each other to take part in the walk May 22, from anywhere in the world. You can even name your team in honor of someone you know who is experiencing mental illness, in order to show that you support and love them.
Share Mental Health Resources
Even if a person experiencing mental illness hasn’t told you personally, you can still help by sharing resources in any way you can. Sharing posts on social media or printing posters for the workplace with helpful advice, mental health hotlines, and other resources might be exactly what someone needs to see in order to seek help. You may never even know that you made a difference in their lives, but they will always remember the help they were able to receive because of your actions.
For reliable, expert-backed information, there are several resources you can refer to that are listed below: