What is Stigma? Guest post by Brandon Christensen

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What is Stigma?

Stigma is a mark of disgrace that sets a person apart from others. When a person is labelled by their mental illness they are often no longer seen as an individual, but as part of a stereotyped group. Negative attitudes and beliefs toward this group create prejudice, which can lead to negative actions and discrimination.

The sad truth is that mental illness is widely misunderstood. Those who suffer have been called names, been blamed for their condition, and isolated. Stigma, and the feeling of shame that it brings, often prevents people from seeking help and treatment for their disorder, even when it is desperately needed. It is crucial that all of us in the mental health community raise our voices and fight to eliminate stigma. If you are not sure where to get started, here are some of the best ways you can work towards reducing stigma in your community.

Ways to Reduce Stigma

1. Become educated and teach others about mental health

Educate yourself about mental health needs so that you are best equipped to discuss them openly! By learning the facts instead of the myths, you will be able to educate others. As you learn more, keep an eye out for opportunities to pass on the facts with friends, family members, or coworkers. If you see someone struggling, encourage them to seek the help of a professional therapist.

2. Encourage equality between physical and mental illness

Unfortunately, not everyone sees mental illness as important as it is, which is why it is so widely misunderstood. People would never shame someone who has the flu, so why does this happen with mental illness? Reminding people of the equality between physical and mental illness is a great way to reduce the stigma and find parity of esteem!

3. Show compassion and get involved

Always remember to treat people who have mental health problems with dignity and respect. Think about how you’d like others to act towards you if you were in the same situation. A simple act of asking a friend or family member how they are doing can make their day and remind them that you care. One of the best ways to show compassion within your community is to get involved with a local non-profit organization that’s working on Stigma Free initiatives!

4. Fight stigma when you see it

You probably see and hear stigma in the public more than you realize. Start paying attention to situations that might be perpetuating this. For example, if you see something online or out in your community that sheds negative light on mental illness, take action and say something rather than turning the other way. Make sure your words and language come from a place or caring and concern, rather than confrontation.

It is so important to the mental health community that progress is made in eliminating the stigma that still surrounds something everyone deals with in one way or another – mental health.

By coming together to fight this common cause, we can make a global impact on how disorders are perceived in society. No matter how you contribute to the movement, you can make a difference by following just one of the tips above and committing to live stigma free!

Author Bio

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(image: Brandon Christensen)

Brandon Christensen is a passionate business leader and mental health advocate who is on a mission to leave the world a better place than he found it. Brandon is the co-founder of Modern Therapy, a tele-mental health company. Brandon has been featured as a keynote speaker onmental health topics at colleges like NYU, Skidmore College, and Columbia University. He holds a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from Ramapo College of New Jersey.

Website: www.moderntherapy.online

Instagram: @moderntherapyonline Facebook: moderntherapyonline Twitter: @_moderntherapy

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Anti Bullying Week and the Diana Award partnering with Everybody’s Talking about Jamie Musical: Guest post

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(image: Diana Award)

This week is Anti Bullying work and here in London, England, The Diana Award is partnering with the musical Everybody’s Talking About Jamie.

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(image: Everybodys Talking about Jamie)

The charity is partnering with the West-End show ‘Everybody’s Talking about Jamie’ to highlight that every young person should feel accepted and find a place where they belong in their school community.

New research reveals:

Nearly half (43%) of young people have heard their friends use language that is discriminatory or negative towards being LGBTQ+

Nearly half (45%) of young people have heard their friends use language that is discriminatory or negative about race or skin colour.

Over a third (35%) of young people have been called gay or lesbian as an insult

Over half (58%) of young people say their school has never taught LGBTQ+ focused lessons.

A new Survation Survey, commissioned by The Diana Award and ‘Everybody’s Talking About Jamie’, reveals that nearly half of young people (43%) have heard their friends use language that is discriminatory or negative towards being LGBTQ+ and 45% of young people have heard their friends use discriminatory language about race or skin colour. Over a third (35%) of young people have been called gay or lesbian as an insult.

The Diana Award is urging schools to celebrate what makes pupils unique during Anti-Bullying Week (12-17 Nov). 

A special gala night will be held at 7.30pm on Monday 12 November at Apollo Theatre, Shaftesbury Avenue.

In advance of the night gala, to kick-off Anti-Bullying Week on Monday 12 November at Alexandra Palace, London: Over 600 young Anti-Bullying Ambassadors aged 5-18 from across the UK are coming together to participate in a hands on event designed to inspire young people to creatively explore bullying issues through drama, singing, photography, rap, graffiti art, and public speaking – all led by celebrity talent.  Cast members of Everybody’s Talking About Jamie will run a workshop at the event which is sponsored by Department for Education, Twitter and Trutex.  

The Diana Award runs the leading Anti-Bullying Campaign in the UK and Ireland giving young people, professionals and parents the skills, confidence and training to tackle all forms of bullying as Anti-Bullying Ambassadors.

 Alex Holmes, Deputy CEO, The Diana Award: “Nearly half of secondary school students have heard their friends use language that is discriminatory or negative towards being LGBTQ+ which is why during Anti-Bullying Week we are delighted to kick off a year long partnership with hit musical Everybody’s Talking About Jamie. The play encourages everyone, particularly young people, to be themselves and educates the audience about the power of language and the need to celebrate difference. This is at the heart of our work training young people to be Anti-Bullying Ambassadors.

Sadly, we know at the charity The Diana Award that school can be a place where young people don’t feel accepted and are targeted for their identity.  We are calling on schools to do more this Anti-Bullying Week to tackle all forms of bullying, particularly in light of this research”. 

Jamie Campbell, the inspiration for hit musical said: “We shouldn’t have to live in a world where bullying exists and the best way to tackle it is through education. Charities like The Diana Award and their Anti-Bullying programme and campaign do great work in raising the self-esteem of individuals and it is an honour to be working with this charity”.

The Diana Award was set up in memory of The Duke of Cambridge and Prince Harry’s mother, Diana, Princess of Wales, and her belief that young people have the power to change the world for the better. The charity fosters, develops and inspires positive change in the lives of young people through three key programmes which include; a mentoring programme for young people at risk, a youth-led anti-bullying ambassadors campaign and a prestigious award which publicly recognises young people – The Diana Award.

The Diana Award is a core member of the Anti-Bullying Alliance. The Anti-Bullying Alliance coordinates Anti-Bullying week and focuses on tacking bullying whether it is happening to them or someone else, face to face or online #AntiBullyingWeek

Everybody’s Talking About Jamie, is based on the true story of Jamie Campbell, a 16 year old school boy who wanted to attend his high school prom in a dress. It is a tale of unconditional love between a mother and a son, and their fight to overcome prejudice, beat the bullies and Jamie’s fight to be accepted for himself. All proceeds from the gala night will go towards The Diana Award Anti-Bullying Programme, which empowers young people like Jamie and his peers to tackle bullying, whilst giving them the skills and confidence to change the culture of their schools and communities.

Learn more here: https://diana-award.org.uk/anti-bullying/