How to Create a supportive mental health environment for yourself and others.

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Mental health issues affect a large percentage of the population, yet there are people who still view it as a joking matter. The stigma behind mental health affects individuals in their work and home life because of others’ false perceptions. Creating a supportive environment is key to balancing a pscyhologically healthy lifestyle to overcome negative myths and perceptions.

Using Supportive Language

Mary Deacon, the chair of Bell Let’s Talk Mental Health Initiatives explains that everyone should pay attention to the words they use. Using judgmental or inappropriate words may create an environment where your friends who have mental health issues may not want to confide in you accordingly.

Be Informed and Comfortable

Ways to avoid stigmatizing mental health are to stay educated and be friendly. Educate yourself on the facts of mental health issues and help out your friends. Be kind by offering to help or take them out for coffee and provide an ear for them. Talking about the issue and listening are important to understanding what a friend is going through. We are not all supposed to be therapists, we just need to listen and be a friend when someone is in need. Having a conversation at the dinner table with your family, or in the classroom with students, or even in your workplace about services that are available to young people and employees may save a life one day.

15 07 09 Mental Health Awareness 1

Heather Stuart, a professor and Bell Canada Mental Health and Anti-Stigma Research Chair in the Department of Public Health Sciences at Queen’s University, reiterates Deacon’s thoughts: “We have to be comfortable in socializing with people. Remember that they are people and need the kind of support we can give them.”

Debunking Myths

Stuart debunks the myths behind mental illness as many individuals believe people with mental illnesses are lazy and have a low IQ, or are dangerous and unpredictable. In reality these people are misunderstood because of inaccurate societal perceptions. Sufferers that receive diagnosis do not worry they won’t recover because the probability is that many individuals will recover with time and the right treatment.

Mental health is a real problem and illness and sufferers should not be stigmatized by claims that they are only doing it to get out of situations at home or at work. People want to be in the work place and get good jobs and claiming they get passed over when companies realize they have a mental illness is an unfortunate myth that needs to be negated.