For years, even generations, there was a serious cultural stigma associated with cancer. Those who got cancer were subjected to avoidance and prejudice out of people’s fear and lack of education. Then, as research advanced and treatments improved, cancer became less of a stigma and more something to be fought. Today we have the "Relay for Life" and other events which organize family, friends and survivors in a big celebration that raises funds for cancer research and treatment and celebrates those who have survived their cancer treatment.
Mental Health issues face a stigma similar to the way cancer used to be. There are myths about mental illness that culturally point to willpower as the solution: “just cheer up, be positive!” However, the sources of mental disease are varied and still somewhat shrouded in mystery, making it more difficult to provide an easy, definitive diagnosis and treatment.
Like with cancer, mental illness doesn’t respect barriers of gender, age, ethnicity, economic background, or family genetics. Some statistics say that as many as one quarter of the world’s population will be affected by mental illness at some point in their lifetime, and most of those people won’t get professional treatment because of the stigma associated with mental health issues. This is important because mental illness has a proven track record for causing harm to people at work and at home, as well as the physical effects caused by stress, discrimination, isolation, despair and depression.
Changing public perception of mental health challenges will take time—as it did with cancer—and it’s just as important that we do so.
Here are some of the ways that you can help:
- Take care of yourself, physically and emotionally, so you do not succumb to mental health issues.
- Don’t be afraid to bring it up in conversation; talking about it helps remove the cultural conspiracy of silence around these issues.
- Listen when others talk with you about mental health issues. Exercise empathy, let go of assumptions and judgments, and encourage others to get help if you sense there is a problem.
- Be compassionate with yourself and others in tough times. Mental illness is not about fault and blame, any more than most cancers are.
To learn more about how important issues like mental health impact the workplace environment, contact us today and consider Staffing Plus when hiring your next mental health professional.
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