We have recently launched a collection dedicated to raising awareness about mental health. Spreading awareness about mental health and empowering everyone to stand up against stigma and discrimination are among the things that we believe an ethical brand should do. With this campaign, we encourage everyone to wear their stand and help undo stigma.
Treatment is available, but the lack of true education regarding mental health makes it difficult for people who need medical care to have access to the help that they need. Stigma targets 1 out of 5 Americans that are suffering from mental health conditions. One in four people in the world will be affected by mental or neurological disorders at some point in their lives. Two-thirds of these people will never seek professional help. Stigma creates a toxic environment that creates shame and silence, and in some cases, takes lives of the mentally ill.
How do we undo stigma? The first step is learning what mental health disorders really are. Below are the most popular misconceptions about mental health disorders, and what people really need to know:
Myth 1: People with mental health disorders are crazy.
Fact: They are not - they are vulnerable. Mental health disorders make patients experience symptoms that pose a challenge to living a normal life, similar to what diabetes and heart disease symptoms do to those who struggle with these ailments.
People with mental health issues may experience destabilized moods, altered perceptions, or heightened emotions, which are all symptoms of their illnesses. Depicting them as crazy, with the definition that they are incapable of control at all times, is callous and lumps them together with things that are hopeless.
Again, they are not.
Myth 2: People with mental health illnesses are violent and dangerous.
Fact: Those who are struggling with mental health conditions are more likely to be victims, rather than perpetrators, of a crime. Those who are suffering from severe conditions are 10 times more likely to be targeted, since they are less likely to accurately assess risky behavior around them.
Only 3-5% of crimes are committed by those who have mental illness. The rest? Done by “normal” ones.
Myth 3: People with mental health disorders cannot possibly do their jobs properly.
This is false. With an empowering workplace and healthy work environment, people with mental health disorders can perform work as effectively as any other person. In fact, work can become an aid towards recovery for those who are coping with illnesses. However, workplace discrimination makes matters worse: 8 of 10 workers with a mental health condition report that shame and stigma prevent them from seeking treatment. Untreated mental health conditions cost the economy $200 billion in lost earnings each year through decreased work performance and productivity.
Myth 4: “Outing” one’s self will only make symptoms worse and lead to discrimination.
The first step that people with mental health disorder is to undo the stigma within themselves. If they refuse to acknowledge their condition and refuse to seek help due to the fear of being stigmatized, they are denying themselves the care that they need.
This is of course, easier said than done. This goes also for the immediate support system of a person with mental illness, as they can also suffer from discrimination themselves. But combating mental health disorders requires bravery, compassion, empowerment, and awareness - the very characteristics that one needs to erase stigma.
Let’s all do our share in undoing myths and spreading the facts!