Most of us experience moments in our lives when we hear something about mental health and think, “That’s really not OK”. It can make a big difference when you challenge people who already know you, but it can be hard to know what to say sometimes.

“It's always difficult to hear someone being negative about you and your troubles when you're already struggling so much. But I've found being open and honest is key.

It took me a long time, but I've eventually gotten to a place where I can calmly yet assertively stand my ground in an attempt to help others understand the difficulties many people with mental health issues face every day.”

Katie, West Midlands Champion

 

Here are some ways that Champions have successfully challenged people when they have heard something stigmatising:

  • Checking out what the person has said and asking them to explain e.g. “What do you mean?”
  • Saying what you’d like to be different e.g. “I would like you to stop describing people as mad” rather than blaming the person or telling them their behaviour is wrong.
  • Concentrating on the behaviour rather than the person e.g. avoiding phrases like “You’re discriminatory”
  • Sharing facts about mental health which contradict what they’re saying. You can take a look at some of these here.
  • Sharing facts about your own experience which contradict what they’re saying e.g. “I have schizophrenia and I don’t have a split personality.”
  • Sharing your feelings about what the person is saying e.g. “I feel hurt that you think people with depression are lazy.”
  • Making comparisons with physical health to help people understand that mental health is just as important and serious
  • If the person is talking about people with mental health problems without knowing that you have one, it can really help to change what they think if you tell them “You’re talking about me at the moment”