Today we looked at ways to overcome the stigma of mental health. All the group members told of their own experiences of dealing with stigma around their health problems. Some members explained how while growing up they were told to simply “pull yourself together” and to “maintain a stiff upper lip”. We discussed how previous generations did not talk about mental health-possibly due to circumstance e.g war times and to the fear of being seen as weak.
Some of the harmful effects of stigma can include:
Reluctance to seek help or treatment
Lack of understanding by family/friends
Fewer opportunities for work
Losing belief in yourself
Some ways to cope with stigma can include:
Don’t let stigma create self-doubt and shame
Avoid isolating yourself
You are not your illness
Join a support group
Speak out against stigma
Lastly, we discussed how it was for men to talk about their illness to their friends/family without feeling a sense of shame. Our society sometimes tells us that men have to be stong all the time and not show any emotion or cry. Male members said that they liked having a mixed gender group as they valued a female’s point of view as well as being able talk to other men. In conclusion to today’s meeting, we agreed that while positive strides are being made to help change stigma, we also acknowledge that there is still some way to go.
Here is a video from the “Time to change” website which group members found interesting: