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Ride Don’t Hide To End Stigma
Despite all the positive advancements in the field of mental health, it pains me to say that the stigma that surrounds mental health still has a tendency to rear its ugly head in the places where it is the least wanted. Stigma can be a HUGE barrier to some people when seeking help with their mental health. It can display itself as an unsupportive environment, a lack of understanding, a comment that places blame or judgement, disbelief towards someone’s experience, and in many other ways. The presence of stigma and the attitudes associated with it can mean the difference between someone seeking help or suffering in silence, and in some cases, the difference between life and death.
So, how can we work together to get rid of the nasty little pest called stigma? One way is to educate yourself. If you can increase your knowledge on mental health and wellness, the process of seeking help, diagnosis, and stigma it can help you to remain an ally for those in the mental health community. Not only this, but it can help you to educate others and continue the chain of knowledge within the community. mindyourmind has a very informative database of mental illnesses to check out if you haven’t already!
Keeping yourself open to the experiences of others can also help to reduce and /or eliminate stigma. Even if you do educate yourself, there is still a possibility that someone’s experience with mental health may be different than some of the descriptions found on the internet. Make sure to always respect what the individual has been through and their current needs. If you have questions, it can be much more beneficial to ask the individual rather than assuming the answer. However, it is important to be respectful of the person’s comfort level. If the individual doesn’t feel comfortable answering the question, let them know that this is O.K.!
Another way that you can help to eliminate stigma is to show your support for the mental health community. You can do this by displaying positive attitudes and acceptance towards mental health in your everyday language and interactions. You can also choose to get involved with different organizations such as mindyourmind, or other mental health advocates.
One upcoming event that focuses on raising awareness to help break the stigma surrounding mental health is called Ride Don’t Hide. This event is hosted by the Canadian Mental Health Association and takes place on Sunday, June 21st 2015 AT 1:00 pm. The event supports all types of riders with the options of riding 5 KM, 10KM, 15KM or riding virtually. Events like this can be a great way to support the mental health community and also to improve your own mental health by engaging in some outdoor activities!
Adrienne (BA Psychology) is a Child and Youth Worker (CYW) student at Fanshawe College, currently on placement with mindyourmind. She has a passion for psychology and mental wellness, and loves working with children and youth. In her spare time, Adrienne enjoys nature, discovering new music and visiting with her niece "Ella" (while secretly analyzing her developmental milestones).
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