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Let's Break the Stigma

By Miriam Ament, Founder and President, No Shame on U

“What mental health needs is more sunlight, more candor, more unashamed conversation about illnesses that affect not only individuals, but their families as well.” Glenn Close, Actress and Mental Health Advocate

Miley Cyrus. Zayn Malik. Demi Lovato, Brandon Marshall. Lena Dunham. Jared Padalecki. Kristen Bell. Catherine Zeta-Jones. What do they all have in common? They have all experienced mental health conditions such as depression, bipolar disorder, anxiety and borderline personality disorder and have talked openly about their experiences. They have incorporated the “unashamed conversation” into their lives and helped normalize the conversation and have also discussed the importance of the support of their friends and families. These celebrities show that anyone can struggle with a mental health issue. The important thing to know is you are not alone, there is tons of help out there and it is important to reach out and get help if one needs it.

Unfortunately, because of the stigma, many people don’t reach out. In fact, research shows that stigma is one of the key barriers to people seeking mental health treatment. Another fact: mental health conditions are the leading cause of disability in the workplace. If you break your arm, you get it treated. And there is no embarrassment about that. It makes no more sense to be embarrassed about getting mental health care than getting treated for a physical condition. Making mental health a part of the conversation in the same way a physical condition is, can go a long way towards eliminating the stigma.  Together with this, family and friends are a big factor in providing support. Saying things to a loved one living with a mental health condition like “I am here for you”, “you are not alone”, “what can I do?” can make all of the difference in the world. Let’s all work to end stigma and save lives together.

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