by Michelle C. Lozano, LMFT

Discussing mental health is difficult for everyone, especially for those who experience their own mental health challenges. Our society has made this a taboo topic, which only exacerbates the issue. As we all know, when mental health is not talked about, the stigma continues, leaving people who are suffering alone and in silence. Here are some quick tips on how to stay informed for yourself and the people in your life to keep the conversation going and help end the stigma.

Educate yourself.

  • Head to your local bookstore and find interesting reads and workbooks on your/your loved one’s condition. General texts, audiobooks and podcasts on mental health would be a good start, too. The more you know, the better you can help to destigmatize this topic, and the more you can be of help to yourself and others.
  • Subscribe to YouTube channels on mental health. Hearing firsthand accounts can be relatable and personable. Here is a person discussing their experience, as well as providing tips on what helps them get through the tough days. Careful not to go down the YouTube rabbit hole where things start to get dark and depressing. Opt for the positive and uplifting channels.
  • Attend a 5K or other charity events that benefit mental health. You’ll feel a part of the difference. Post about it on social media, bring awareness to the light.

Talk about it.

  • Mention it in conversation. Instead of saying “I had a bad day yesterday,” go with “I was having some depressed or anxious feelings yesterday.” A much harder conversation to have, but an honest one that opens the doors for others who are struggling to relate.
  • Send your friends’ memes describing humorous and serious topics regarding mental health. Instagram accounts @mytherapistsays, @stigma_resistant and @selfcarethreads are a great start. Quick and short reads are accessible to anyone and less intimidating than a full book or research article.
  • Ask questions. Don’t assume your close friend staying home from work was because of the flu, but try not to pry. It’s a fine line, but those who struggle with their mental health will more often than not appreciate the occasional “How are you really doing?” from someone they care about. Even if they’re ok, you just made it known you’re someone that is safe to come to with this kind of thing.

Do your part to help destigmatize mental health, because it won’t happen on it’s own! You can really make a difference, even if just to one person.

About the author: 

Michelle Lozano, LMFT received her Master of Marriage and Family Therapy from Northwestern University- Evanston, IL, and Bachelor of Science in Psychology from Loyola University Chicago. Michelle’s treatment approach includes Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP) and mindfulness techniques and psycho-education.

Michelle completed her clinical internship at The Family Institute – Evanston, IL, conducting individual, couple and family therapy in the outpatient clinic. Here, Michelle worked primarily with adolescents and adults struggling with anxiety, depression and related disorders on emotion regulation, developing adaptive coping skills and enhancing their relationships with their significant others. Michelle believes in working collaboratively with clients on their goals, and approaches every client with her relatable, comforting and warm presence. Michelle has obtained advanced training in the treatment of OCD, Panic Disorder, Social Anxiety Disorder, Trichotillomania, skin picking and other anxiety disorders.