New report calls for big action against mental illness stigma

Mental health plays a huge role in a person’s quality of life, but way too often it is not diagnosed or treated. One of the biggest reasons for this shortfall is a stigma surrounding mental health care: Many suffering people choose to keep on suffering rather than become a person being treated for mental illness.

In fact, just last week researchers published a study illustrating that stigma: College students who showed signs of a stigma around mental illness were much less likely than the average student to click on a link for info about mental health, even if they were in mental distress.

There are campaigns around the U.S. aiming to fight the stigma surrounding¬†mental illness, but a new report says these efforts aren’t enough. It’s time to rally the troops for a coordinated, sustained attack.

Pulling insight from successful ongoing campaigns in England, Australia, and Canada, ¬†it’s asking the U.S. government to bring together all the stakeholders — that’s people being treated for mental illness, family members, employers, nonprofit groups, advocacy groups, insurance companies, journalists, health care providers, lawmakers, and so many more — and figure out what we can do to end the stigma against mental illness. It recommends education, exposure, and changes in policy.

It will take a long time, but I’m hopeful that as the general population starts to become more aware of what it means to have a mental illness and how common that is, more and more people will be willing to seek help and find a better way to live.

Satu Woodland is owner and clinician of Mental Health Solutions, an integrative mental health practice located at Bown Crossing in Boise, Idaho. She sees children, adolescents, and adults.


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