HOW WOULD YOU FEEL…
IF YOU WERE EXCLUDED FROM EVERYDAY ACTIVITIES THAT THE REST OF THE COMMUNITY TAKES FOR GRANTED???
Most people with mental illness lead lives like anyone else, working and participating with family and friends. The most disabling aspect of mental illness for many is the way they are treated and excluded from those things the rest of the community take for granted. This is all because of the stigma attached to mental health.
If you or someone you care about is experiencing mental illness, you need to know you are not alone.
Part of the reason for negative attitudes and behaviour towards people with mental illness is a lack of knowledge and a fear of the unknown.
Anyone can experience mental illness—it’s more common than you may think. Nearly half (45%) of Australians will experience a mental illness at some stage of their life. So it’s important that we try to gain a better understanding of what people around us may be going through.
What is mental illness stigma?
Despite this, people living with mental illness will often experience stigma and discrimination from friends, family, employers and the community as a whole.
Sometimes the disadvantages and isolation they feel can be more disabling than the mental illness itself.
Mental illness stigma can lead to being:
- denied housing or accommodation
- refused employment
- discriminated against in the workplace
- shunned or excluded from family or friendship groups.
How does stigma affect people living with mental illness?
- Feeling isolated
- loss of hope
- worsening of their condition.
- stop people from seeking help and support
- fear the reactions of people they are seeking support from.
- ashamed or embarrassed of their mental illness.
How can I help?
- Change our behaviour around our family, friends and colleagues living with mental illness
- show people living with mental illness respect and acceptance
- become aware of the issues and disadvantages people face.
- acknowledge the fact that people with mental illness are entitled to the same rights and opportunities as everyone else.
- Be sensitive
- Think about the words you use [Words like nutter, crazy and psycho can be offensive and hurtful.]
- Be respectful
- Communicate-. When you meet someone who wants to talk about their mental illness or symptoms it is important to: [be there, listen and be non-judgemental, choose the right time and place to approach the issue, acknowledge what the person is sharing—don’t brush it off, give the person any information you have on available resources or support.]
- Be empathic
- Help them seek support
- Encourage them to seek help, [a professional (e.g. psychologist, GP, counsellor, psychiatrist) family and friends other support, self-help strategies]