Mental Health

5 Ways to Break the Stigma Around Mental Health

Approximately one in five Canadians experience mental illness each year. It is essential to work together to eradicate the stigma that surrounds issues of mental health, whether it’s feeling judged for seeking therapy, or feeling unable to talk openly about struggles.

Many people continue to believe that having troubles with mental health is a sign of being weak. Therefore, going to therapy or seeking treatment can have negative connotations. The reality is that mental health problems are widespread. Admitting you need help is both brave and tough – it is an essential step to mental wellness.

The stigma that surrounds mental illness may result in restricted access to healthcare services, social isolation, and difficulty speaking up to others about the challenges faced. This may result in an increased sense of isolation and a loss of hope.

Therapy can be an effective tool for improving mental health.

How Therapy Can Help

  • Provides a safe space to express oneself: Therapy provides a nonjudgmental and confidential environment to express one’s thoughts, feelings, and experiences.
  • Helps to gain insight: Therapists can help individuals gain a better understanding of themselves, their thoughts, and their behaviours. This can help them identify patterns that may be contributing to their mental health issues.
  • Teaches coping skills: Individuals can learn new coping skills to help them manage their symptoms and improve their mental health.
  • Encourages self-care: Therapy can help individuals prioritize self-care and make lifestyle changes that can improve outcomes.
  • Offers support: Therapists can provide emotional support and validation, which can be especially important for individuals who may not have a strong support system.
  • Addresses underlying issues: Therapy can help individuals manage issues that may be contributing to their mental illness, such as trauma or unresolved emotional conflicts.
The stigma that surrounds mental illness may result in restricted access to healthcare services, social isolation, and difficulty speaking up to others about the challenges faced.

In summary, therapy can provide people with the skills and support they need to manage their symptoms, improve their relationships, and live a more fulfilling life.

What follows is a list of helpful hints and strategies for reducing the stigma around mental illness:

1. Educate Yourself about Mental Health

Awareness is one of the most effective strategies to combat the negative stereotypes that surround issues related to the mental health of individuals. This can include gaining knowledge about the many mental health issues, the symptoms associated with them, and the many treatment choices that are currently accessible. You may contribute to alleviating the anxiety and confusion that frequently surround mental health issues by increasing your own level of understanding.

2. Speak Out

Speaking out about your personal experiences with mental health is another approach to breaking down the stigma. This can contribute to the normalization of the dialogue surrounding mental health and encourage others to do the same.

3. Use Inclusive Language

It is essential to use language that is inclusive when discussing issues related to mental health. When trying to create a more welcoming environment for those who are struggling, it can be helpful to avoid using words or phrases that stigmatize or stereotype mental health issues.

4. Support Mental Health Programs

Support local This can be done either in your community or workplace. This can involve things like campaigning for mental health policies, donating to organizations that work to improve mental health, or participating in events that bring awareness to mental health issues.

5. Normalize the Act of Seeking Care

Encourage open conversations about treatment. Recommend that individuals seek care when they feel they need it and share information about services available for mental health in your community.

Where to Find Information and Support

There is a wealth of information and support options available to help you or someone you know address mental health concerns. Here are several examples:

  • The Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) provides a variety of mental health support services, such as therapy, support groups, and educational resources.
  • Talk Suicide Canada is available around the clock, every day of the year.
  • The Employee Assistance Program (EAP) is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week if you need mental health support. Check with your employer for more details on what is available to you and your family.

Check your local area for virtual or in-person private counselling services for support with your mental health. Download this free printable handout from our website:  4 Keys for Helping Someone with a Mental Illness

If you found this post helpful, check our website for additional blogs by Shelly.  For more FREE RESOURCES on this topic and others, visit our free resources page.


Shelly Qualtieri

MA, RSW – Trainer, Crisis & Trauma Resource Institute

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