Break the stigma surrounding mental health

Megan Keane, Columnist

Yesterday, Oct. 10, was World Mental Health Day.

Lots of people struggle with mental health—I don’t think we need statistics at this point to know that. We’ve been shown the statistics and we know this.

What we hardly ever hear about are the specifics of peoples’ struggles. Maybe in a once-and-awhile Facebook or Instagram post, we might see it discussed but mental health is not usually discussed on a regular basis.

It’s important to break the stigma surrounding mental health.

Some people treat mental health either with ignorance, which is fixable, or they treat it like it’s an excuse, which is worse.

It’s worse because they’re acknowledging that mental health is something that some people struggle with, but they’re not acknowledging how difficult and debilitating those struggles can be.

In the case of ignorance, it can be mended, sometimes.

Talking about mental health is vital to breaking the stigma. It seems self explanatory, but it’s easier said than done.

When talking about your own mental health, there’s an element of vulnerability. It feels shameful. It sometimes feels dramatic—to me, at least.

Shame is a powerful feeling. It can lead to internalizing emotions and conflict, which is not only devastating to your mental health but to your physical health as well.

Being vulnerable is the key to helping people understand mental health, and it can ultimately help bring light to shame.

Many people have opened up to me in light of my own vulnerability. Then, of course, there are the people in my life who were unaware of my struggles, but upon telling them, they’ve made an effort to understand.

Talking about our struggles is difficult, but hearing about another person’s struggles—at the very least—humanizes that person.

People suffering from any level of any duress due to mental health complications don’t realize the impact that they can have. By sharing your personal experiences with depression or anxiety, you can create a link to other people.

If people hear your story and feel your struggles or relate to your struggles, they may gain a better understanding of mental health or talk about their own struggles.

By sharing your vulnerability, you can help normalize mental health and discard the shame associated with having a mental illness.

The most common misconception is that, in order to have an impact, you have to be clinically-something like suffering really badly or being really depressed/anxious/numb.

That is not the case.

Personal experiences speak to other people, no matter the severity. The conversation has started. The information and language is out there now in a way it’s never been before, but we need to continue it.

Megan Keane is a senior English and

psychology major. She can be reached at

581-2812 or [email protected].