May is Mental Health Awareness Month     #breakthestigma

May is Mental Health Awareness Month, and the words we use when we talk about mental health matter.

Stigma refers to the negative attitudes, false or unfair beliefs, or feelings of disapproval that people have about something.  Stigma is common about mental health and prevents many people who struggle with mental health challenges from seeking help and support.

Mental illnesses are illnesses just like heart disease or diabetes. They are real, diagnosable, and treatable.  No one want to develop cancer or high blood pressure. No one wants to deal with having a mental illness, either. We would never consider rejecting or mocking a person with a physical illness. So why should mental illness be any different? More than 1 in 5 adults and 1 in 6 youth ages 6-17 in the United States live with a mental health challenge. Odds are you, someone you love, or someone you know is one of these people.

During Mental Health Awareness Month, take the time to think about the stigma surrounding mental health. This stigma builds barriers that stop people from reaching out for assistance, treatment, and comfort. Choose your words wisely, stand up for those with mental illnesses, encourage understanding and compassion. Tear down the barriers, end the stigma, change lives.

Because Suwannee County School District CARES about all of our students and parents, here are some tips to get you started on doing your part to end the stigma about mental health.

C -  Commit to paying attention to the words and phrases you use in your daily conversations and  change them if they may be hurtful to someone living with a mental illness.

A -  Avoid using slang words and phrases like “off her rocker,” “he’s bonkers,”  “that person needs to           be in the crazy house” or other stigmatizing statements when talking about mental health issues.

R - Remember that is very likely someone you know or their family member or friend is dealing with a mental health challenge.

E - Educate yourself and your family about the stigma surrounding mental health, what it looks like, and what you can do about it.

S - Stand up for people living with mental health challenges by refusing to participate in stereotyping or ridiculing mental illness, even if it’s being done with no intent to harm or stigmatize anyone.

If you or someone you know is experiencing a mental health crisis, call or text 988 for help 24/7.