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Guest blog: Mental health affects everyone

March 11, 2021    in
This blog is guest-written by Meka Tate, Mental Health Campaign Coordinator at The Wellbeing Partners.

Mental health affects everyone: One in two of us have a mental health condition in our lifetime, and even if you have not experienced one yourself, you likely have a loved one who has1. Mental health is a human experience, but negative attitudes and beliefs toward people with a mental health condition are common.
 
The stigma attached to mental health can lead to discrimination, which makes it harder for people to seek help and to speak openly about their experiences. Stigma may be obvious and direct, such as someone making a negative remark or perpetuating negative stereotypes about those who live with a mental health condition. But stigma can also be unintentional, such as using language that is damaging or hurtful. Phrases like “you’re crazy” or “stop being so OCD” have become part of our everyday vocabulary, but stigmatizing language spreads the idea that people with mental health conditions are somehow different when they’re not.
 
The public stigma around mental health conditions can lead people with a condition to mistakenly believe that it is a sign of personal weakness or that they should be able to control it or manage it without help. Self-doubt turns into shame and keeps many from seeking treatment.
 
Talking about mental health can give us the freedom to seek help, find people who can relate, and move toward better well-being. Some of the most comforting words in the universe are “you are not alone.” That moment when you find out that your struggle is also someone else’s struggle and that others have been down the same road provides comfort and strength. The Wellbeing Partners, in partnership with the Public Good Projects (PGP), is working on a local campaign, called WhatMakesUs, to let more people know that they are not alone. WhatMakesUs is focused on reducing the stigma around mental health conditions and creating healthier, happier communities across the Greater Omaha and Council Bluffs area.
 
The campaign collects and shares stories from people living with mental health conditions and their allies, highlighting individuals from all walks of life and emphasizing who they are as people — not defined by a mental health condition. These stories help to normalize talking about mental health and let people know that they are not alone. Share your story here or learn more by visiting whatmakesus.com or join the campaign on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook at @WhatMakesUsMW.
 
This initiative also includes Spokesimals Midwest, which uses local animals and pets to share simple messages of encouragement, support, and facts about mental health. Submit a pet or follow the campaign on Facebook and Instagram at @SpokesimalsMidwest.
 
Together, we can work to stop the stigma surrounding issues that so many of us face!
 
Written by Meka Tate, Mental Health Campaign Coordinator at The Wellbeing Partners
 
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1 Kessler RC, Angermeyer M, Anthony JC, et al. Lifetime prevalence and age-of-onset distributions of mental disorders in the World Health Organization’s World Mental Health Survey Initiative. World Psychiatry. 2007;6(3):168-176