When he first told me that he was unwell, I was taken aback. “really?” I thought to myself. As someone I had known for the majority of my life broke down in front of me, the extroverted ebullient exterior was no longer visible, more a mirage than reality. He calmly explained that he hadn’t been feeling right for a long time, and he was afraid to tell people because they would see it as a weakness. Others would see it as something that they could exploit and use against him at any time. He was so close to his breaking point that he had to tell someone.
This is the common effect of a generalized anxiety disorder.
The stigma around mental health in one word is toxic. Social stigma around this refers to the negative stereotypes of those with mental illnesses and their portrayal in society. These stereotypes usually emanate from a lack of understanding of them and often act as a barrier for those with mental health issues when trying to get help.
If someone comes to you for advice what should you do?
- Be calm and avoid being judgemental. Everyone’s struggle with mental health differs. Avoid comparing their battle to others or maybe even with your own encounters and experiences.
- Listen to them, hear what they’re going through, and empathize with them. Don’t be quick to reach conclusions.
- Research and educate yourself on mental health. We often absorb negative stereotypes portrayed everywhere in society. Below, check out the provided links to various resources.
Supportive and appropriate responses when someone shares a traumatic experience + what they’re going through:
“I’m here for you, and thank you for trusting me.”
“What can I do to help you through this process?”
“What do you want me to know about your illness?”
“My view of you has not changed because of your struggle, and I am proud of you.”
“Your feelings are valid, and it is okay to feel like this, remember that you are loved and valued.”
Resources to further educate yourself: