There is still a stigma surrounding mental illness, making people afraid of being labeled as crazy or being told they should just get over it. Many don’t want to be seen as weak or unable to cope.

In America:

If mental illness is more common than diabetes or asthma, why is it that we are still so afraid to discuss it?

There are many types of mental illnesses, such as depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), and bipolar disorder, etc. Each of these are diagnosed conditions. They are not weaknesses. They are illnesses. We need to start viewing them as such.

It’s time to educate ourselves about how chemical imbalances in the brain determine mental illnesses. When we begin to see mental illness as a disease of the brain — just like lung cancer is a disease of the lungs and arthritis is inflammation of the joints — maybe the stigma will go away.

What Not To Say

Often people ignorantly say hurtful things without even realizing that they are feeding into the stigma surrounding mental illness and possibly offending people who are struggling. Here are a few examples.

To people who are truly struggling with any one of these issues, these kinds of flippant statements devalue the seriousness of the issue they are facing and adds stigma to the illness. While you may not mean any harm, it may be interpreted as hurtful or offensive to others.

You Don’t Need to be Ashamed

The idea behind the campaign #imnotashamed is to spread the message that mental health conditions are nothing to be ashamed of. They are not a choice, character flaw, or a weakness.

It is a positive step to be able to share openly about your mental illness without shame and realize you are not alone. Check out what others are saying who are not ashamed! Add your voice to the conversation by tweeting your story with #imnotashamed.

Moving Beyond the Stigma

If you are struggling with a mental illness, here are some important steps for coping with and moving beyond the stigma:

How to Help a Friend

If you know someone who has a mental illness, here’s how you can make a difference:

If you struggle with a mental illness, we have free, confidential mentors who would love to talk with you and support you. Just click “Connect” below.

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This article was originally published on TheHopeLine®.

This article was written by: Dawson McAllister

Photo Credit: morgan sarkissian