Gaps in Mental Health Advocacy
Over the last few decades, communities across the globe have sparked deep, critical dialogue around mental health and illness. This is evident in mainstream media, policymaking, many workplaces, and our day-to-day conversations–just to name a few.
Society’s collective exploration of mental health has helped us pinpoint folks’ wellness needs. Further, we have taken steps to try to meet these needs. Examples include:
- Trainings (e.g., safeTALK) to learn how to support people in crisis
- Consideration of the language we use to describe mental health (e.g., person-first versus identity-first language)
- TikToks destigmatizing men’s mental health, like this one!
- And more.
Such programming has enabled us to create more compassionate and inclusive communities. However, this is a work in progress. While we have come a long way, there are gaps in mainstream mental health advocacy and education.
Certain mental illnesses are left out
In dialogue regarding mental illness, some conditions such as depression and anxiety tend to be emphasized, while less-common disorders (e.g., schizophrenia and borderline personality disorder or BPD) are overlooked. There is certainly more that communities can do to support folks with depression and anxiety, but there is a considerable disparity in how we talk about these illnesses versus others. This affects how knowledgeable people are about these illnesses. For instance, in one study by Time to Change, 84% of participants knew at least a little bit about depression, while only 50% were familiar with BPD and 35% with schizophrenia.
This lack of knowledge can contribute to the stigmatization of illnesses like schizophrenia and BPD. In fact, one study found that people with schizophrenia are widely perceived as dangerous to both themselves and others. Between 2009 and 2019, attitudes toward schizophrenia worsened due to the scarcity of anti-stigma interventions addressing this illness, and folks grew to feel less comfortable interacting with those who have this condition.
Among other consequences, stigma can:
- Create feelings of shame and hopelessness
- Lead someone to feel reluctant seeking support with their condition
- Cause one to feel isolated from their loved ones
- Hinder someone from accessing employment opportunities, housing, and health insurance
- Lead to bullying, physical violence, and other forms of discrimination.
Breaking the Stigma
Studies have shown that sharing knowledge and information about a mental illness can help reduce its stigma. As we discuss mental health in our daily lives and work, it is important for us to consider how we can platform voices and experiences that are often overlooked.
A good first step is educating oneself. To learn more about less-discussed mental disorders, feel free to access the resources in this section. You can also visit our page on mental health and illness.
As you navigate through these resources, keep in mind that everyone’s experience with a given mental illness is unique. These resources describe some common experiences but don’t necessarily speak to every story. Additionally, these sources touch on topics that may be triggering for you, so please take the steps that you need to feel comfortable.
- Schizophrenia (Article)
- What it’s like Living with Schizophrenia/Schizoaffective Disorder (Video; 8 minutes 21 seconds)
Histrionic personality disrder
- What is Histrionic Personality Disorder? Kati Morton (Video; 7 minutes 6 seconds)
Borderline personality disorder
- 9 Things About Borderline Personality Disorder You Need to Know (Video; 6 minutes 7 seconds)
- Living with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) (Video; 13 minutes 41 seconds)
*This is not an exhaustive list of less-discussed mental disorders. As our team finds more relevant resources, we will append them to this section.
- Mental health: How we’ve improved and where we need to do better in 2020
- Mental Health Disorders We Don’t Talk About Enough
- Mental health: Overcoming the stigma of mental illness
- Mental illness is more than just depression and anxiety
- Public Stigma of Mental Illness in the United States: A Systematic Literature Review
- Mental illness stigma after a decade of Time to Change England: inequalities as targets for further improvement
- The CDC Adds Mental Health Conditions to High-Risk Covid-19 List