Yeah, I was surprised too. I think that might be because mental illness is one of those topics that still make people pretty uncomfortable to talk about–so we don’t. We keep it under wraps.
But we shouldn’t! One in four of us? That’s a lot of us! My own family has four people in it…and if one of us had a serious physical health or medical condition, I’d certainly be talking about it with them–as well as with my friends and extended family. And I’d be finding out as much as I could about the condition, and finding out where I could reach out for support–both informal and professional support.
So, since May is Mental Health Awareness Month, let’s do the same thing with mental illness…let’s talk about it…let’s get it out there in the open and learn from each other…let’s support each other…and let’s get rid of all those awkward feelings around talking about it!
But Kassie [you might be thinking]…it’s not comfortable–and even if I WANT to talk about it…that doesn’t mean I know HOW to go about doing that.
Hmm. Good point.
So…what CAN you do to get more comfortable talking about mental illness?
Well, I know that my own reluctance to talk about something often comes from not knowing what to say. So…let’s begin by learning more about it:
Here are a few other sites that talk about mental illness as well as ways to support your loved ones:
- Myths & Facts about Mental Illness from NAMI (the National Alliance on Mental Illness).
- Seven Important Things We Can Do To Reduce Stigma & Discrimination from Shatter the Stigma Mend the Mind.
- Self-Help Resources from heretohelp.
- Advocating for Your Child: 25 Tips for Parents from NAMI.
- Other Resources in Minnesota from makeitok.org.
(The views expressed on any external websites do not necessarily represent those of Bridges of Hope.)
And finally, I have found that when I just start talking about my own family’s experiences with mental illness–even when it’s a little uncomfortable at first–some of that discomfort goes away, and some of the stigma about mental illness goes away with it.
That’s all it takes, really–each of us, talking just a little more than we do now…reaching out to each other, and sharing our own experiences.
So let’s do it–together!