Confronting the Mental Health Stigma

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There’s still a serious stigma around mental health, and it’s making the problem a million times worse. That’s why more than half of people with mental illness don’t get the help they deserve. And why others delay treatment. 

For anyone who’s experienced mental health issues — about one in five of us in any year — the same questions swirl around the brain like clothes in a broken tumble dryer: What will they think? What will they say? What will they DO?

It’s a never-ending cycle of doubt and doom.

And it has to stop. Let’s break this cycle of distorted thinking here. Mental health illness is normal. It can happen to any of us in the film industry, and it probably will. (If it hasn’t already.) Here’s how to overcome the stigma that surrounds it.

Talk About It

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There’s nothing worse than suffering in silence. Sure, talking about our feelings can overwhelm us, but there are people out there who will listen and provide the support and resources we need. There’s nothing to fear.

So, email a friend, perhaps another veteran. Or go visit the doctor. Or book some counseling with the Will Rogers Motion Picture Pioneer Foundation, the organization for people who work in theatrical exhibition, distribution, and vendors exclusive to either sector.

Feel Empowered

It’s strange how many of us feel shame when talking about mental illness. We work in the film industry amongst some pretty liberal folk who won’t judge us. Still, we keep our secrets to ourselves and suffer alone. Why don’t we turn this shame into something positive? 

Let’s feel empowered when discussing mental illness. Let’s use our voices to make a change, not just in the industry but across society. Let’s get the message across that mental illness can be a good thing.

We love this quote from HelpGuide:

“Rather than the absence of mental illness, mental health refers to the presence of positive characteristics. People who are mentally healthy have the ability to deal with stress and bounce back from adversity.”

Don’t Perpetuate the Stigma

It’s as though we’re conditioned to see mental illness as a negative thing. Like it’s hard-wired in our brains from birth. It’s easy to use terms like “crazy” or “mentally ill” to describe someone if they are shouting on the street. These terms come naturally to us because we’ve used them since childhood.

So let’s use more favorable terms when describing mental illness. 

“Don’t say ‘mentally disabled,’ ‘mentally handicapped,’ or ‘mentally ill,'” notes Psychology Today. “Say, ‘has a mental illness.'”

And if you don’t anything nice to say, say nothing at all!

Before You Go

It’s Mental Health Month, and there’s no better time than to challenge the stigma around one of the world’s most common — if commonly misunderstood — conditions. When we follow the tips above, we realize that mental illness is just like a broken arm or a bad case of the flu. It’s nothing to worry about, and we’ll soon get better.