Wednesday, January 30, 2013

What Can You Do?

I post a lot about education, removing stigmas, raising awareness, and supporting people when it comes to mental health. I also realize that this can be a bit confusing. So I thought that I'd write a (relatively) short post on a few things that people can do to help in these areas. Some might be broader, and some might help just one individual person. But both are equally important, because really, you often change attitudes one person at a time.
  • Be supportive of people who are open about having a condition. If you want to know something about the condition and feel comfortable, ask them. You may want to ask them if you can discuss it with them first, instead of bringing it up out of the blue. Even for those who are open, it may still be a somewhat sensitive topic. Knowing the actual answer is so much better than assuming - especially than assuming and being incorrect. 
  • Do some research. Organizations such as MHA, NAMI, and DBSA are good references for information on various mental health conditions. If you read an article, check it's sources - just because it's an "official article" doesn't mean it's accurate, and everything has a context. 
  • Participate in walks or public events that help raise both awareness and funds for mental health research. For instance, many local NAMI chapters organize walks. BBRF helps organize events to raise funds for brain and behavior research. There are also the Out of Darkness walks for suicide prevention. These are just several examples. I'm sure you can find others in your area, and I'm happy to help you to do so - just ask!
  • If you feel strongly enough, take legislative action. mental health aid, along with numerous other areas of healthcare, is always in danger have being cut. Learn what's happening in these areas, and if there are any petitions or other actions that you can take to help. 
  • Encourage those who are struggling to seek the help they need without making them feel badly about it. So many people are afraid to seek help because they don't want to be labeled, are afraid of the stigma, and for numerous other reasons (including lack of funds to pay for the appropriate treatments). Ask them howyou can help. Encourage them if they want to seek help - gently, not in a "What's wrong with you? You need therapy!" kind of way. 
  • Utilize social media to help fight the stigma. There are plenty of organizations, personal bloggers, mental health professionals, and others that you can follow on various social media outlets to help raise awareness, educate people properly, and decrease the stigma. You'll probably also learn a good bit in the process. 

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