While more conversations about mental health and mental illness have been cropping up in personal, professional, and political spheres, stigma surrounding certain topics and conditions continues to persist. Ending such stigma will be imperative for ensuring the safety and well-being of all individuals, especially those who are struggling with mental health issues. For educational environments, this progression is essential, as students who feel stigmatized for their mental health conditions (or lack the education to seek a diagnosis and/or aid) are at risk of a decline in performance, mental health, and general happiness. In order to identify how to address the existing stigma, educational professionals must make a continued effort to understand the prevalence of mental health stigma and research how to combat it.
Putting up posters that promote mental health and establishing lone days to increase awareness can be productive, but these one-off tactics are not going to be effective in the long-run. In order to more effectively target mental health stigma, changes must be made at the curriculum level. Such changes can involve educating staff members on mental health and the stigma that surrounds it, providing seminars or workshops to heighten awareness, and encouraging teachers to create classroom environments that are open, safe, and inclusive. Including lessons that involve a destigmatized approach to mental health will be productive, as well.
Promoting Physical and Mental Health
In school settings, physical health and fitness are often held to high standards. A simple and effective tactic for combating mental health stigma entails elevating the importance of mental health to that of physical health through school programs, lessons, and values. By equating both kinds of health, providing adequate resources for both, and ensuring that students understand the importance of mental health can reduce the stigma among students.
Improving Available Resources
The task of ending mental health stigma in schools is a challenging task that involves education and support. From compassionate, informed counselors to teachers with special training, a supportive environment must strive to encourage students to speak up about their struggles and rely on their supervising adults. When it comes to speaking to school counselors, students may have negative associations with the concept, so alleviating concerns and fears will be imperative. Additionally, ensuring that students know that they can trust the school staff members to be kind, caring, and supportive will go a long way in reducing overall stigma.