Mental health is a state of emotional, psychological and social well-being. How we handle stress, relate to others and make choices are all determined by our mental health. Being mentally healthy is characterized by being able to realize your own potential, cope with normal life stressors, work productively and contribute to your community.
Experiencing mental health problems can affect your thinking, mood and behavior. Biological factors, life experiences and family history can all contribute. Mental illness is a common problem and help is available no matter your situation. People with mental health problems can get better and many recover completely.
Fighting Mental Health Stigma
Mental health stigma causes people to feel ashamed if they have a mental illness, even though this is completely out of their control. Stigma prevents people from seeking the help they need. It is an unacceptable addition to the pain of mental illness and we all must raise our voices against it.
So, how do we fight it? Please join the Arkansas Crisis Center by taking these steps against mental health stigma:
- Talk openly and honestly about your mental health or mental illness. Even if you help just one person, it is worth it.
- Educate yourself and others on the struggles of mental illness. If you hear a rude remark about mental illness, use this as a learning opportunity, gently intervene and express how this only adds to the stigma.
- Be conscious of language. Refrain from using mental health conditions as adjectives.
- Encourage equality between physical and mental illness. Mental illness is a disease, like diabetes, heart disease and cancer.
- Show compassion for those with mental illness. Model compassion for others by connecting with people, talking about their lives and showing affection and humanity to those who are suffering.
- Choose empowerment over shame. Live an empowered life. Own your story and refuse to allow others to dictate how you view yourself or how you feel.
- Be honest about treatment. Do not be ashamed of saying that you see a therapist or a psychiatrist. There is no judgment in saying that you have an appointment with your primary care doctor; why should mental health appointments be any different?
- Let the media know when they’re stigmatizing. If you watch a television program with negative comments, storylines or characters with mental illness, write the broadcasting company and the program itself. Respond to negative social media posts by telling your story.
- Don’t harbor self-stigma. Do not hide in shame. Be productive and volunteer. Take your treatment seriously. Show others that you can live a meaningful life even while battling a mental illness.
We must speak in a collective voice that sounds brave, strong and persistent – all the qualities needed to face mental illness and fight stigma. No matter how you contribute to the mental health movement, you can make a difference simply by knowing that mental illness is no one’s fault. You can make a difference by being and living stigma free.
When You Should Call
If you or someone you know is dealing with a mental health crisis and/or exhibiting any of the following warning signs, the Arkansas Crisis Center is here for you to provide emotional support and resources in your area. If someone is in immediate danger or you are unable to connect, please dial 9-1-1.
- Eating or sleeping too much or too little.
- Pulling away from people and usual activities.
- Having low or no energy.
- Feeling numb, like nothing matters.
- Having unexplained aches and pains.
- Feeling unusually confused, forgetful, on-edge, angry, upset, worried or scared.
- Inability to perform daily tasks, like taking care of your children or getting to work or school.
- Feeling helpless or hopeless.
- Yelling or fighting with family and friends.
- Experiencing severe mood swings that cause problems in relationships.
- Having persistent thoughts and memories you can’t get out of your head.
- Hearing voices or believing things that are not true.
- Thinking of harming yourself or others.
- Smoking, drinking or using drugs more than usual.
How to Help
Wondering how you can help maintain your mental health? Here are some ways you can stay proactive and help those around you who may be struggling:
- Reach out for help if you need it!
- Stay connected with others.
- Stay positive.
- Get physically active.
- Help others in your community.
- Get plenty of sleep.
- Develop good coping skills.