Reducing Mental Health Stigma

May 3, 2023 | College Health, Mental Health

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Feelings of worry, anxiety, depression and isolation have only been amplified since the pandemic. This impacts everyone, including the millions of Americans living with mental illness.

Sonya Summerlin, LMFT, from St. Dominic’s Behavioral Health Services, shares information about mental health during Mental Health Awareness Month.

Isolation and Loneliness

The numbers of new cases of mental illness have risen significantly in the past few years, including among the elderly and young adults, much of it fueled by isolation and loneliness. 

“These are serious times, and we have got to put mental health on the top of everyone’s minds,” Summerlin says. “One cannot be healthy without focusing on their mental and emotional health too.”

Unfortunately, the stigma that society has placed on mental illness continues to persist. 

“It’s no wonder that people living with mental illness don’t feel comfortable mentioning it to anyone. Some who suspect they might be depressed or have anxiety don’t even want to tell their family physician. We can change that. We can each do our part to make sure no one feels they are alone,” Summerlin says.

Pledge to be Stigma Free

It is easy to unconsciously perpetuate the myths and misconceptions associated with mental illness, which can be harmful to people around you. 

The National Alliance for Mental Health (NAMI) encourages everyone to pledge to be StigmaFree by learning more about mental illness and what you can do to help stop the stigma. 

Here are a few suggestions to start:

  • Use respectful language when talking about mental health conditions.
  • Challenge misconceptions when you see/hear them.
  • See the person, not the condition.
  • Offer support if you think someone is having trouble.
  • Refrain from using harmful labels.

“Together, we can change the way society perceives and treats people with mental health conditions through education and understanding,” Summerlin says. Learn more about the harmful results of stigma and what to do about it on the NAMI website.

Help #StopTheStigma. If you or a loved one feel the need to take the next step for your mental health, St. Dominic’s Behavioral Health Services offers free assessments for walk-ins and by appointment. Call (601) 200-3125 to schedule. Assessments help guide individuals to the care they most need whether that is with an outpatient therapist or psychiatrist or in an inpatient setting.

If you or someone you know is at immediate risk of self-harm or hurting another person, call the suicide hotline at 988. We’re here to listen. Find a provider within our health system.

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