May 5th is National Silence the Shame Day and gives an opportunity to continue the conversation about mental health and wellness and erase the stigma associated with mental health. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), approximately 1 in 5 adults in the United States, 43.8 million, experiences mental illness in a given year. 1 in 5 children ages 13-18 have, or will have a serious mental illness. These numbers make it clear that we need to silence the shame.
According to an article by NAMI, there are 9 ways you can fight mental health stigma. They include:
1. Talking openly about mental health
2. Educating yourself and others
3. Being conscious of the language we use
4. Encouraging equality between physical and mental illness
5. Showing compassion for those with mental illness
6. Choosing empowerment over shame
7. Being honest about treatment
8. Letting the media know when they’re being stigmatizing
9. Don’t harbor self-stigma (believing you are weak or damaged due to an illness)
Brene Brown, PhD MSW, is a research professor at the University of Houston. She has studied courage, vulnerability, shame and empathy for the past two decades. She sums up how we can overcome stigma quite nicely in her quote, “When we find the courage to share our experiences and the compassion to hear others tell their stories, we force shame out of hiding, and end the silence”.
We encourage you to find your courage and help silence the shame!