A person’s mental health can be impacted in many ways and the severity of mental health problems and illnesses range significantly. Many people and families are affected by mental health problems and illnesses. In Canada, one in every five individuals will have a mental illness in their lifetime. Mental illness affects people of all ages, genders, cultures, and education and income levels. Mental illness indirectly affects all Canadians at some time in their lives through a family member, friend, or coworker.
Mental illness affects the mind, emotions, and body. It can make it hard to think normally, deal with how we feel, and cope with daily challenges. Like physical illness, mental illness can take many forms. It is different from physical illness because many people misunderstand people living with mental illness because the signs and symptoms are not always as visible. For this reason, people with mental illness often feel shame or guilt.
People living with mental illness can also experience stigma— negative attitudes and behaviours others express towards people with mental health problems.
There are some ways to reduce stigma:
- Know the facts
Learn more about mental health problems — the truth, not the myths.
- Be aware of your attitudes
See people as unique human beings, not as a stereotype.
- Choose words carefully
When talking about, and to, people with mental health problems.
- Educate others
Pass on the facts and positive attitudes about people with mental health problems.
- Focus on the positive
Like everyone else, people with mental health problems contribute to society. Health problems are just one part of who we are.
- Support people
Treat people with dignity and respect. Support their choices and encourage their efforts to get well.
- Include everyone
People with mental health problems have a right to take an equal part in society.