The extent of stigma surrounding mental health is not a hidden fact. A consequence of such a stigma associated with mental health undoubtedly becomes a major factor hindering in the identification as well as treatment of mental illnesses, primarily because of the ‘silence’ and hesitation that is a consequence of such stigma.
It is essential to ensure widespread awareness and sensitivity about mental health concerns in order to overcome the stigma that has been associated with mental illnesses since time immemorial. At the same time, encouraging help seeking behavior is of paramount importance. In the recent times, there has been growing recognition of the significance of mental health and its related concerns. As we all possibly do recognize this importance, there’s actually a simple yet effective means at our disposal of truly bringing about a far-reaching impact. This collective effort could be to simply begin to talk, break the silence and ‘unmute yourself’
The following are some of the points which could be helpful in making a collective effort in breaking the silence about mental health, thereby contributing towards the vision of changing the scenario of mental health within the country:
- Bust myths and clear the stigma related to mental health. One of the primary obstacles which typically comes in the way of identification and management of mental illnesses is the stigma attached. Therefore, an open mindedness is essential to fight the roots of such myths, along with increasing a widespread awareness and education about mental health.
- Start talking about it. Talking about one’s distress is undoubtedly a prerequisite to seeking help. It is important to remember not to bottle up one’s feelings inside of us. Instead, we need to be willing to talk it out, vent out our emotions, while at the same time sharing our distress with our near and dear ones. Not only is this process cathartic, but also serves as an agent of encouraging willingness to seeking help.
- Encourage seeking support. It is only by talking about your own concerns that it is possible to reach out for the support of others. In fact, sharing one’s problems in itself is the first step as it helps the individual realize that he or she is not alone. Therefore, reach out to your family, friends, or peers, and talk to them.
- Have a sensitive approach. Another major obstacle that often blocks help seeking behaviour comprises of worries about being misjudged, not being listened to or fearing betrayal. betrayed, thereby experiencing mistrust and shame. This can be further compounded by the lack of understanding and awareness amongst members of the community. Therefore, it is necessary for all of us to create a sensitized approach within the society in order to ensure greater receptivity as well as understanding of mental health related concerns.
- Be aware and informed. It is primarily due to lack of awareness and information that families and individuals frequently turn a blind eye to potential conditions of mental health related problems and do not seek the required help. They may not know who to go to for help, or may be misinformed about the nature of their problem. Often, they may not even be aware that they have a problem and can carry the agonizing pain of feeling responsible for their own suffering, experiencing a lot of guilt and self-blame. Therefore, we need to educate ourselves about these concerns in order to be equipped with the adequate knowledge to identify and guide others.
- Be open to reach out to a professional. Remember, struggling to deal with your own stresses alone is not a sign of strength. Therefore, be willing and open to reach out to the help of a professional mental health expert, who can help you identify the concerns and offer more adaptive coping strategies of overcoming the situation while also planning for a better future.