It seems just like yesterday that I wrote about Mental Health Awareness Week (see my post here), and I’m happy that the entire month of May is devoted to educating the public about such a prime aspect of our wellbeing. I hope that communities will continue to grow and strengthen in their understanding of mental health so that nobody ever has to feel isolated in their struggles. For me, each day provides an opportunity to educate about mental health (though my siblings have to constantly remind me to “stop working”/psychoanalyzing on my days off). If you follow me on Instagram, I plan to post daily information related to the field for the remainder of the month of May.
When brainstorming something to write to commemorate this month, I felt that my response to a question that MedDebate asked me during an interview seemed appropriate:
In your opinion, How do we eradicate the stigmas associated with mental health conditions?
I believe that eliminating stigma requires empathy, self-awareness, and normalization of mental health discussions. Many still believe that mental illnesses are signs of weakness rather than the fact that they are true neurologic diseases. Educating and raising awareness are important factors for understanding issues in mental health, but education can only go so far without empathy. To be completely honest, even I had my own stigma going into the psychiatric profession and it wasn’t until I acknowledged my own mental health issues that I was able to be more open, relate even more to my patients, and reduce stigma in my mind. The more people are willing to talk about their own mental health, the more people can connect with one another to normalize discussions of mental health-related issues.