For decades, there has always been a stigma against mental health. Around one in four people will experience a mental disorder at least one point in their lives, according to the World Health Organization. However, only a third of these people will seek professional help. The other two-thirds never seek aid due to reasons like stigma, discrimination, or inaccessible mental health care in their area.
The statistics are similar in the UK. Around 25 percent of people will experience a mental health disorder, while only one in six people in England will report a mental health disorder in any week. These are solely based on reported cases, and it’s highly likely that many remain undiagnosed.
Luckily, there’s a growing movement that seeks to change the way the public sees mental health disorders. Mental health advocates are everyday people who, despite not being professionals like psychiatrists and psychologists, want the public to understand that it’s okay to seek professional help for their problems. Here’s how you can become a mental health advocate.
Don’t Invalidate What People Are Feeling
One of the reasons many people don’t get the professional help they need is because their symptoms are downplayed. For example, people experiencing depression may find a lack of energy or interest to get out of bed or perform their everyday tasks. Some people may not see this as a mental disorder and simply claim that that person is lazy or dramatic.
Mental health advocates recognize that mental health disorders affect a person’s ability to function normally. If a person seems distracted or irritable or just acts differently than usual, don’t call them lazy, rude, or attention-seeking as their change in behaviour may be due to them coping with their illness.
Get Involved in the Mental Health Community
You don’t have to be a psychiatrist, psychologist, or professional counsellor to become a person helping the mental health community. For instance, you can volunteer for mental health organisations, donate to fundraisers helping mental health patients, and keep up on the latest news and videos on psychology training for professionals. Through these ways, you can help the community end the stigma against mental health while staying updated on the latest techniques professionals are using to treat those who need help.
Educate Others and Speak Up
One of the reasons the stigma of mental health persists is because many people still believe in the myths about mental illnesses. For example, you may hear someone say that a person who claims to have a mental illness is violent or merely claiming to have a condition for attention. As a mental health advocate, it’s your responsibility to speak up and educate them appropriately about the myth.
To properly educate others, you will need to read up on mental health statistics and the current state of mental health in the country. Many organisations provide these numbers online, which is why it’s a good idea to stay updated and follow mental health organisations and their social media platforms.
Share Your Story
Many people choose to believe they don’t have a mental illness because they might think that these conditions have no cure and they’ll have to live with the stigma of their situation for the rest of their lives. That isn’t the case; many people who have overcome their mental illness have gone on to be mental health advocates for others.
If you want to be a mental health advocate because of your experience, it can help you and others to share your experience of what it’s like getting help. You don’t have to share the sensitive information in your experience, but by sharing your story of recovery to others, you can help convince them to seek help as well.
Mental health advocates can help erase the stigma against mental health illnesses and the need for seeking professional help. It is a noble cause any everyday person can join and volunteer to help change the way the public sees mental health.