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April 26, 2022

How we can dim the stigma around Mental Health.

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Mental Health Awareness month is in May and the #DimTheStigma campaign is our mission to dim the stigma and create hope for those affected by mental illness. Through hopeful words and actions, we can shift the hurdles for those living with mental health conditions. Together, we can be examples of acceptance, compassion, and understanding. In this episode I discuss the stigma around mental health, ways in can be harmful, and how we can dim the stigma around mental health.

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Melissa Bright:

Welcome to The Bright Side of Life, a podcast where people share their personal stories of struggles, pain and grief. But through all of that, they are still able to find the joys in life. Hello, everyone, and welcome to this week's episode of the bright side of life. I am your host, of course, Melissa bright. And this week, we have another solo episode. So I first want to say that if you're watching this on YouTube, my face is bright red. Because I just had a very, very stressful three hours, and I'm going to talk about my stressful three hours a little bit later, but it does actually pertain to this episode. So I'm gonna get to that later. If you can't see me and you're just listening then Lucky for you, but my face is literally bright red right now. Okay, so today is April 25th, you're probably listening on April 26, which is tomorrow, but I digress. Maura May is Mental Health Awareness Month. And as you guys obviously know, with my podcast, mental health is something that is near and dear to my heart. And I am a huge, huge, huge mental health advocate. So much so that I am actually going to be on my local news station here next week, talking about the stigma around mental health and how we can end the stigma around mental health. So my boyfriend kind of gave me this idea today for a solo episode topic. He's like, why don't you talk about that on your episode today on ending the stigma around mental health. So I can kind of get practice practice for my TV segment that I'm going to be doing and to also create more awareness because we are getting into May. So today, what we're going to be talking about is we're going to be talking about first, what is the stigma around mental health? What are the harmful effects of the actual stigma, what steps that we can take to cope with the stigma and how we can also do our part to end the stigma around mental health. So let's go ahead and get started. The first thing is, what is the stigma around mental health? What do I mean by that? So stigma, the stigma around mental health is that people there is still misunderstanding about it, there is still lack of understanding. And because of that, that creates people to, for them to feel shameful, but also to for people to portray onto people that they're weak, they're not maybe qualified enough for this job. Things like that very kind of discriminative. Tory, is that a word? I'm gonna give you the actually exact definition from the American Psychiatric Association. It says in here, more than half of people with mental illness do receive help for their disorders. Often people avoid or delay seeking treatment due to concerns about being treated differently, or fears of losing their jobs and livelihood. That's because stigma, prejudice and discrimination against people with mental illness is still very much a problem. So that is basically what the stigma is about. And what I want to do today is obviously talk about ways that we can end the stigma and why it's so important to me. But also, we can also break down the stigma even further, right? So there's a public stigma that involves the negative and or discriminatory attitudes that others have about mental illness. But then there's a self stigma that refers to a negative attitude, including internalized shame that people with mental illness have about their own condition, right. So it's kind of like a double whammy. Not only do we have society telling us that something is wrong with us, or looking at us differently judging us differently. Now we have our own selves saying what's wrong Hang with me, something must be wrong with me, so on and so forth were shameful about it. And that is a huge, huge, huge problem. Now, what I want to say about this, and what I want to do to create awareness is, this is all bright. Now I'm talking about my thoughts and my beliefs. And so if you do not agree with them, that's okay. I'm just going to tell you. Well, first of all, I'm going to tell you facts. The facts that are that there are many, many, many mental illnesses out there that are extremely, extremely common, that people still have a stigma about and those being I'm going to tell you, depression, anxiety disorders, those two, right? They're like, the statistics on how many people have depression and anxiety disorders I'm on I was diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder last year. So there's a stigma around depression, there's a stigma around anxiety disorders. And if you can think back of what the hell we just went through for the last two years, why would we be making people feel bad that they were depressed, that they just lost a loved one, due to COVID, or due to being depressed or having anxiety about where their food is going to come from, or where their money is going to come from, because they just lost their jobs. So if you don't think that depression or anxiety doesn't fall into the stigma, it absolutely does. But what I also want to say is, you and myself, probably know, people that have been affected with just these common things, okay. And I don't want to minimize that not saying they're not, they're not severe, because they absolutely are severe. I'm just saying, that's how common it is, we can all probably think of somebody that has suffered from depression, or suffered from anxiety disorders. And these have a huge, huge impact on our lives. And so I say all of that. Because if you are a person, that might not be doing their best to help with this stigma, and you think that people are weak because they need to seek therapy. This is where I want you to, I want to educate you and say, Oh, I did not realize that it was depression and anxiety. And that falls into that. I feel like when, at least for me, when people say like mental illness, they just take it to the 10th degree of like the worst case scenario, mental illness of maybe somebody in a psychiatric ward, like the stuff that you see on TV in the media, that somebody's tied up. With one of those coats, I forgot what they're called, you guys are probably yelling at me like a straight jacket, I think is yeah, that's what it's called. Like, that's what sometimes the media can portray. And then the word crazy comes up, and that shit will drive me crazy. I hate to say the word but that that is what will upset me quicker than anything is because these mental illnesses are so so much more common. And there are so many people being affected by them. And we need to in this stigma and I am not talking about mental illness, first of all, does not discriminate in terms of like, oh, it only happens if you're a certain race or a certain gender or a certain age, that is absolutely not true. It is happening to our children. It is happening to our elders, it is happening to middle aged people, it is happening to all different races, it is happening to genders, it's happening to everybody. Okay? So it does not discriminate. And in that manner, and that's why I'm saying as you probably know somebody that has been affected by it, and you really need to think that like why am I calling if this is what you're doing and you have been known to do this is like why do I think that person is weak because they had something really traumatic or maybe even not traumatic, but traumatic to them happen in their life? Like everybody has been sad, a time or two in their life. Maybe not you haven't experienced anxiety, but why that doesn't make somebody weak. And I also want to get still on my soapbox that you going to therapy does not make you a weak person and it does not make you like something does not have to Be so fucked up with you to, like go to therapy, okay, you can go to therapy, to want to have a better understanding of what, why you operate the way that you do, why you react to certain situations because of trauma that has happened. I'm using all of these because I have done that I was in therapy. And there is not some thing. Crazy wrong with me. But self awareness that I have for myself now. And I can look back on my life and see certain events that happen in my life. And I can tie Oh, I now realize why I overreact and why I snap on my boyfriend, because my dad was really hard on me. And I had these limiting beliefs. And I was super sensitive, perfectionist, and I had to be perfect and hold these things trace back. But now I am so self aware. And I know all these things about me, and who would not want that in their life unless they just want to go on and blaming whoever, for all their actions that they have in life, maybe not those people. But those are probably the same kind of people that are saying that you're weak for going to therapy. But then there's also an older generation that thinks they out of their head that they are there is a family member that I am close with that is older, and he needs to go to therapy, and he's really, really struggling with that he feels that he should do, he should be able to do this on his own. And that's just simply not the case. Sometimes there sometimes there's literally a chemical imbalance that needs to be fixed. And people need to talk out their problems that our problems are not meant to stay inside our body. Because when they do that is when sickness and ailments and anxiety and all these things happen. Because we do not know how to self regulate, self regulate. And we're seeing all this trauma trapped inside our bodies. And it doesn't even have to be like this big trauma, it can be you know, let's say you had a really, really bad breakup eight years ago that you're still holding on to the pain for that, those kinds of things. So I'm going to say one more time, it does not make you weak, to go mental, or to get professional help, you would go to the doctor, if you had a temperature of like maybe 101 100 into you will go to the doctor, if you had a fever, you would go to the doctor, if you had a broken arm, you would go to the doctor for any of these things that you can physically see. Right? And they need to be fixed. Why the hell do we have to feel bad to take care of our mental health? We absolutely should not and you should not. So I just want to say that. And I hope to God that I'm not. I don't want to feel like I'm preaching at you. But I just want you to know that if you are one of these people that have thought that people are weak for having a mental illness, tell you that that is not the case. And I also want to talk about the harmful effects of that stigma that I have probably already talked about. But other ones that are listed on here is reduced hope makes sense, right? lower self esteem, because we think that there's something wrong with us when there's not, we just need help increase psychiatric symptoms, difficulties with social relationships. Absolutely. I have even had problems with my own personal relationship because of the way that I interacted with people. Reduced likelihood of staying with treatment, because their shame around it and you don't want to tell your friends so then you might not even go to therapy because then you have to tell your friends that well I can't actually go to volleyball because I have therapy and I don't want to tell my friends that so I'm just not gonna go therapy, simple examples like that, guys. It's happening all the time, more difficult. At work. You have something going on inside you that you feel that you can't talk to. And so work is it's not going well for you because you're so distracted. These are the harmful effects of stigma and discrimination. Thank you to better help for being our sponsor. If you guys think you might need to see a therapist. BetterHelp is amazing. They are online. You can do it from the comfort of your own home. You have the options to message them. You can do a phone call, you can do a video chat. What ever you feel comfortable with doing they have several different types of therapists if you need couples, or for marriage and family therapy, it's also available to individuals worldwide better help is a monthly subscription. So you're not paying per session and financial aid is available for those who qualify. So visit better side of life, that's better side of life, join over 500,000 people taking charge of their mental health with the help of an experienced professional. And for your first month, you're going to receive 10% off by being a listener of the bright side of life. So let them know that I sent you by using the link forward slash Bright Side of Life, the link will also be in the description section of this episode. I also want to say that, once again, I told you before that this does not discriminate for age for any age, right that like teens are really, really, really struggling with this right now. So if you have kids in this area, this is a huge, huge problem. And 2020, there was a national survey of 14 to 22 year olds, that found 90% of teens and young adults experiencing symptoms of depression are researching mental health issues online. And most are accessing other people's health, health stories, through blogs, podcasts and videos, about three and four young teens seeking information online about depression. So they were looking for personal anecdotes from people who suffered had suffered in the past. So that crazy high number three and four, they're seeking information about other people struggling because it's not being talked about, this is exactly why I started talking about my mental health because everybody feels alone. And they feel like they are the only one going through this, when so many of us are collectively going through it. But it's like we can't we can't tell that person, when our best friends might be going through it our sister, our brother, they might be going through it, but they feel like that they can't say anything. So know that if there's a conversation that you can have with with your teens, or you know, if you know somebody that has opened up publicly about this, that is about their age, you know, to send them in their direction, so they can see that they're not alone, you know, I might not resonate with a 17 year old kid, because I'm almost 37. But, you know, there's probably other podcasts out there that are more geared towards them that could really really help them. So now brings me to the point of what can we do to what can we do first of all, like on our part, to help end the stigma. And there's a list of stuff. And I would just like to add more to this. But as individuals to help reduce the stigma of mental health. First thing is talk openly about it, such as sharing on social media, if you're not comfortable with it, I totally understand i Some people are more private people. And there's absolutely nothing wrong with that. But for myself, I know, I would feel like I'm doing the world a disservice if I did not talk about things that I go through, because I'm helping other people. And I have been told that time and time again. And so I will never stop sharing my vulnerabilities for this exact reason. And I'm okay with talking openly about mental health, this does not have to be a shameful thing. Also, educating yourself. Just like I said earlier, I don't know if you didn't know that depression and anxiety are considered a mental illness and that definitely falls in this category. And are you walking around, you know, like, maybe you have an anxiety, maybe you have anxiety, but you also said, well, that person's weak for going to therapy. So just knowing like educating yourself, educating yourself a lot, like I have done so much research on mental health and having many, many, many, many, many, many mental health experts on my podcast so I can understand myself and also educating others. If somebody says something that's not right or it's not true, to say something to them, respond to miss perceptions or negative comments By sharing facts and experience, which I often do these days. Be conscious Some of your image that you say people, because words can hurt people. And remember that words do matter. Okay? So just watch what you say, because you never know, like, you might be an I don't know if this type of guy is listening to this podcast, but you might be some. Like, I'm just thinking of like this macho guy that like just cannot. He's always on and he just cannot ever seem weak. And you know, he's out there like Colin, people, like, Oh, that guy is just a P word. Because he goes to therapy or something like, Dude, you gotta watch, you gotta watch your language. And like, you could say that about your guy, friend, and that can be really hurtful. And he's gonna be like, I'm never going to talk to my friend that I'm, that I'm, I'm never going to talk to him. Talk to my friend about me struggling because this is exactly how he acts, this is exactly how he talks. And I can't do that he's gonna think that I'm weak and that I'm this and I'm that. So just know that words matter. Okay? And, and encourage equality between physical and mental illness, draw comparisons to how they would treat someone with cancer or diabetes. Okay? Same thing with somebody with struggling with depression, anxiety, schizophrenia, bipolar, the list goes on and on and on, guys. Okay. Why would we treat us any different than somebody that has cancer or diabetes or something like that? showing compassion, putting yourself in the other person's shoe, for those of us that do have a mental illness and say, Oh, I'm just giving myself in as an example. Well, let's see here, Melissa has lost her mom at the age of 25. She lost her dad last year. So she has no living parents here. She has no living grandparents here, she has barely any family left alive. So I've had a lot of trauma in my life. And then you want to go and tell me that I'm weak, and that I shouldn't have anxiety. Because my anxiety is the fear of losing people, even though I've lost very, very important people in my life. Like Put yourself in my shoes and say, if you could say the same thing about like, Why the hell I would not go to therapy and why the hell I should not have anxiety and all these things. We are human, okay, we are not meant to be like, strong and have all of our shit figured out all the time. And just nothing can affect us. And I'm glad I'm not that person, by the way. So show compassion for people with mental illness. And be honest about treatment, normalize mental health treatment, just like other health care treatment, if you take medicine, it's okay. If you go to therapy, that's okay. It is Oh, okay. And this is a good one, let the media know when they are using stigmatizing language presenting stories of mental illness, mental illness and a stigmatizing way. I guess you could either write to them or tweet and have it right. And the last one that they have on here that I really, really like, is choosing empowerment over shame, which is huge for me, because that's what I lived in shame for a really, really long time. And now I am and the empowerment side, obviously, if you can't tell. But shame is not a fun place to be. And it's a really, really, really hard place to get out of when you don't know where to turn, and you don't know who to talk to. It's like who can you trust with like this secret that shouldn't even be a secret, right? Like, we should be able to just have this conversation. And I also want to say is, I know that it's not always easy to be on the receiving end, because you you're like, oh my gosh, I don't know what I'm going to say to my friend Joe, if he comes to me and says he's really struggling right now. Just know that you don't have to have the answers. Like you don't have to be this fixer. You can just be a listener and just say, you know, I hear you, and I am here for you. I will listen to you. But at least in my instance, I can't say this for everybody. I'm not wanting you to fix me. I'm just wanting you to listen to me. And sometimes that's all I don't want to say that's all people need, but even just getting that off their chest. I saw a friend of mine and share something a tick tock yesterday, I guess somebody had asked like, Who do you go to when you're struggling and all these guys? Like it was one video after another saying like, What are you talking about? Like, we don't go to anybody, we don't call her for what your, we're not calling our guy friends. And it was very, very, very, very, very sad to see. In fact, the girl was actually crying in the video watching all this stuff, and I totally understand. So just know that you don't have to be a fixer, you can just listen. And that's okay. I know it can be awkward at times. But awkwardness is so much better than an alternative. If somebody would do something to harm themselves, right, because they didn't have an outlet to talk to their friends. So be that person. And if you notice, a friend, family member, whoever acting different acting like, not as interested in stuff really seems sad, isn't showing up to events just out of their norm that they're not normally doing. Ask them sincerely ask them how they are doing. And be prepared for an answer. Other than I'm fine. Because maybe one of these times are really going to say, you know, I'm really, really struggling today. And all you have to say is, I'm here, do you want to talk about it, I would be happy to listen. And you can always say like, is there anything I can do to help you? And they might say no, that that was enough. So I just wanted to say all of that. But I want to get to one of my favorite parts about how we can end the stigma. So once again, at the beginning of this episode that I said that my face was bright red. And it is if you're watching this video on YouTube, by the way, if you see my shirt, Yellowstone, shout out to that show love it. And my brother lives in Montana. So we love it even more, because I've been there several times. Okay, so my face is bright red. I just spent literally three hours creating a campaign that I am super, super, super proud of, for mental health awareness month, the campaign is dim, dim the stigma. So di m the stigma dem the stigma, hashtag dim the stigma, okay. And this is now up on my website at the bright side of life And you can go literally it has it up in the header or it's on. On the side of like when you scroll down, you'll see where you can sign up. But now you have the opportunity to pledge to end the stigma around mental health on there, you can pledge to dim the stigma around mental health. And then when you do you like whenever you sign up, you will get a graphic sent to your buttons sent to your email inbox that you can share on social media, using the hashtag dem the stigma, you can start using that today. And I would love love love if you use it to please tag me. I don't care. I'm on Facebook, I'm on Instagram and I am on Tik Tok. And I am on Pinterest, I'm on all those I am not on Twitter, but I am on all those. And if you don't have all those, you can also get those at the bottom on my website website if you scroll all the way down all that stuff. So if you don't follow me on those, you can go down there. And I would love it for you guys to tag me in that. But more importantly, is I would love it if you guys just pledge to dim the stigma around mental health, the conversations, really, I feel like we're going in a better direction with more people opening up about their mental health. But I also feel like we have a really, really long way to go. And it just takes one person to show and to share something on social media and said, Oh my God, that person just pledged to dim the stigma around mental health. Thank you for that because I suffer from x, mental illness X, mental health disorder, whatever. And that could really really mean a lot to a friend. That could mean so much as that friend might feel comfortable enough to go to you now to talk to you if they are really having a struggling moment. Okay, so why the hell was my face read? Well, the graphic that I saved that I that I made and I saved how to hashtag in it. And it literally took me three hours. to figure out why the EFF, every time I would like, do this, it kept saying error, there was an error, there's an error. And I'm like, I have done this so many damn times with my website, like, why is this time any different? Finally, finally, I decided to troubleshoot it. And like, look at all those options. And it said that your graphic could not be saved with any kind of characters that are, you know, any of the characters. Well, there was a hashtag in there. Oh, my God, it literally took me forever to figure that out. And I guess my blood pressure was rising because my face is bright red, but I'm super happy. I'm so happy I got that campaign up. Just no, it came with blood, sweat, and tears. So now we really got to pledge right guys. But that's, that's where my face is read, all you got to do is go to the bright side of life And it is in two places, so you can't miss it. You either go to them the stigma up at the top of the header, or you go on the side of the banner. And it also says right there and you can pledge either way. And you guys can do this, like I said starting immediately now. And I will also put that link in the show notes so you guys can just go straight there. But anytime through May guys mental health awareness is all the month of may not say March May, May May. I want to thank you guys. I hope this episode was helpful. I would love any feedback. So feel free to shoot me a message on any of my socials. Or you guys can send me an email however you want to contact me. And then I will let you know how my first TV segment goes. I am on local news station channel two next Tuesday, but I actually think I'll have a podcast but thank you guys, I hope this was helpful. And as you know if you know anyone, anyone at all that needs to hear this episode, please, please please share it with them. Because we never know if this is the one that puts hope back in their heart.