theSkimm on Mental Health

Published on: Sep 10, 2020fb-roundtwitter-roundemail-round
theSkimm on Mental HealthSpencer Gabor

The Story

Almost 1 billion people are living with a mental health disorder. The pandemic hasn’t helped.

Talk to me about mental health.

There are a couple ways to define it. One way is that it’s basically an overall look at how you’re doing – emotionally, psychologically, and socially. Part of being mentally healthy is about proactively creating a positive environment for yourself, and fighting back against the stigma around it.

Stigma...remind me.

It’s a negative perception or stereotype. And it’s a pretty common problem. It can also affect whether people decide to get treatment. Stigma comes in two types…

  • Social stigma: The general perception from society when it comes to a mental health problem. Like, people thinking that someone with bipolar disorder is unstable or violent. When people refer to stigma, they’re usually referring to this kind.

  • Self-stigma: When people think negatively about themselves based on social stigma. Like, feeling embarrassed or ashamed of what they’re going through.

How did the stigma start?

A lot of it comes from people not understanding what it means to struggle to maintain good mental health. And since people don’t always understand it, they might not feel comfortable talking about it. That’s why some people think it’s a taboo topic...and why it’s a vicious cycle. The good news: millennials are apparently a lot more willing to talk about mental health than their parents or grandparents.

What causes people to struggle with their mental health?

Lots of things. Some factors are tied to genetics or personality traits. Others can be tied to your specific environment. Like, how you’re treated at work or in social settings. There’s also your physical health and safety, your employment status, any discrimination you’re experiencing, or trauma you’ve gone through in the past. And studies like this one have said that social media may have something to do with it.

How are millennials doing, mental health-wise?

Not great. Millennials are reporting higher levels of mental health issues than older generations. Teens and college students are also experiencing rising rates of depression and anxiety. Women in particular are prone to things like depression.

What about mental health awareness?

Millennials have been called “the therapy generation.” That’s because they’re more likely to go to therapy and to talk openly about their mental health than older generations. Celebs are catching on too. In recent years, celebs like Britney Spears, Justin Bieber, Chrissy Teigen, Jon Hamm and even the British royal family have talked about mental health challenges and the stigma around it.

How can I help myself and others?

If you’re struggling with mental health challenges, here are some tips…

  • Talk it out: Be open and honest about what you’re going through. Create a dialogue. Whether it’s with a friend, family member, co-worker, or support group, it’s important to talk about what you’re going through. Chances are you’ll find someone else who’s going through something similar.

  • Educate yourself: Take the time to really understand what you’re going through: what condition you might have, how it’s caused, the side effects, etc. Oh, and teach others about it too.

  • Get treatment: Treat a mental illness the same way you’d treat a physical one. When your throat or stomach hurts, you go to the doctor. You should do the same when your mental health isn’t doing well.

  • Don’t let an illness define you: Your illness is part of who you are, not who you are entirely.

Want more ideas? Here you go.


Learning more about mental health can be a big step toward taking care of yourself. And ending the stigma around it for others too.

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