Ending Stigma Around Mental Illness

by Terros Health Staff
 

May is Mental Health Awareness Month

May is Mental Health Awareness Month and is being recognized by proclamation in Arizona by the Governor and related state agencies like Arizona Health Care Cost Containment Services (AHCCCS), our state Medicaid program.

 

Who is impacted by mental health conditions?

  • One in five Americans lives with a mental health condition.
  • One in 25 lives with a serious mental illness (SMI).
  • Mental health conditions begin early. Half of all lifetime mental health conditions begin by age 14, and 75 percent by age 24.

Facing a Cultural and Health Challenge: Stigma

People with mental health conditions often encounter damaging social stigma and internal self-stigma in addition to their illness. Individuals with mental illnesses have been ostracized by negative attitudes and assumptions, or stigma, that cause others to fear, avoid, and reject them, as well as negative self-messages that come from a loss of hope.

Why Should We Care?

Stigma shapes public views on mental health. It influences how businesses make hiring decisions, how landlords make rental decisions. Stigma creates negative public perceptions of mental illness and prevents equal access to basic human needs such as housing, employment, and health care.

When we know that negative perceptions of our mental health conditions can affect our ability to locate housing, get or keep a job, or find a health care provider, we are less willing to seek or continue treatment for our condition, which contributes to self-stigma. Stigma erodes our personal dignity and self-esteem. It shames us and prevents us from seeking the help we need.

Mental Health Impacts Physical Health

We now know that mental health is vital to one’s overall physical health and well-being. We also know that mental health conditions are not only common, they are treatable and often preventable.

At Terros Health, we understand the connection between mental and physical health. We are a behaviorally-led, whole health care system and we are uniquely qualified to help patients see the connections between the health of their mind and body, and to help.

Words Matter: You Can Help Cure Stigma

As an integrated health provider, Terros Health is proud to participate in the goal of ending stigma around mental illness.

Maybe you remember the childhood saying: “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” A more accurate rendition would be closer to “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will break my heart.”

The words we use to talk about mental health matter, and you can make a difference! Join AHCCCS, Terros Health and others in curing stigma about mental health. When we change the words we use to talk about mental health and illness, we help each other, and anyone who may feel shame about seeking help for a mental illness. Our words can show respect for the experience that someone else is living. We can:

  • Use person-first language that focuses on a person’s humanity rather than a diagnosis. Instead of saying, “he is a schizophrenic” change the phrase to “he is living with schizophrenia” or “he is a person with a diagnosis of schizophrenia.”
  • Know the facts about mental illness and substance use disorders.
  • Reframe your thinking and self-talk to your potential, strength, patience, and possibility.
  • Share what we’ve learned with others.

For examples of person-first language, visit AHCCCS Office of Individual and Family Affairs.

To learn more about #CureStigma and the work being done by National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), visit curestigma.org

We Are Here to Help!

Contact Terros Health today! You can reach us by phone, 602-685-6000 or by email at CustomerSupportStaff@terros.org. We want to help!