Canadian Mental Health Week! Let's fight the stigma! :: Association of Justice Counsel News
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May 6th, 2016
May 6th, 2016

Canadian Mental Health Week! Let's fight the stigma!

The Canadian Mental Health Association's 65th Annual Mental Health Week is this week. The theme this year is to #GETLOUD and fight the stigma surrounding mental health. According to Statistic Canada, 1 in 4 people reports having mental health issues. This means that there is a 25% chance that you or someone you know suffers from a form of mental illness.

In the ancient times, the stigma was a practice of branding a person to identify them to others. This stigma was meant to brand the person so they may be avoided, shunned or perceived as "different" or "ill". Although this practice has long passed, stigma surrounding mental health issues is still very real.

In a Psychology Today article titled "How to Fight Mental Illness Stigma" the author identifies 5 levels of stigma that can affect people suffering from mental health issues.

  • Self-Stigma is the self-blame you attach to your identity as being someone who has depression. Whether it's your personal or professional identity, you attach negative self-beliefs about your abilities or worthiness. To combat this experience, you need to educate yourself about what depression really is. It is a neurobiological issue, not a result of laziness or weak character. Living with depression may be something that affects you greatly, but it does not singularly define you.
  • Public stigma is the experience where myths and misinformation keep the general public fearful about mental illness. Just like self-stigma, educating the public is the key here.
  • Professional Stigma occurs when stigmatizing views of mental illness go beyond the general public to the so-called educated levels of professionals. Studies have shown that well-trained professionals from an array of health fields stereotype psychological disorders. To combat professional stigma, don't be afraid to educate.
  • Label Stigma occurs with the use of diagnostic labels. It's important to note that diagnosis is a meaningful way to identify illness. However, the language of diagnosis can make having a mental illness stigmatizing. For example, "He's a depressive" feels more negative as a descriptor than "He is a person who has depression". Again, put yourself out there and correct the misuses of labels or language that dehumanize.
  • Stigma by Association is the experience of being stigmatized because you know someone who has a mental illness. If you are a family member, friend, coworker, or neighbor of someone who has a mental illness, you have the potential for finding yourself socially disqualified from others.

The best way to fight stigma is to address it. Let's continue to talk about mental health and ways to help eliminate the stigma surrounding mental health.  Visit:

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