Why Mental Health Anti-Stigma Campaigns Don’t Work

Saw this sign from my buddy & had to post it & dive a little deeper.


First off, on the surface, it’s hilarious & true😂. All telling someone to “Calm Down” does, when they’re heated, is fan the flames. I guess delivery & tone can play in & help if you have someone super soothing relaying the msg, but for the most part – telling someone NOT to do something, while they’re doing it – often riles them up even more.


The reason why this sign hit me so hard however, is bc of how it reminded me of the feelings I had arnd MH campaigns, when I first started in this space at the end of 2017.


After dealing w my mess for 2.5 yrs & coming to the realization that much of my struggles stemmed from challenging life experiences I’d faced growing up – I wanted to look back to see why I didn’t think to get help…to work on my MH while I was facing all of those traumatic events.


I’d be belaboring the pt talking abt the downside of all the “1in5” stats. If you’ve been following you know I feel that those stats divisively create the perception of 2 groups – the 20% who are “sick” & the 80% who are “healthy/normal.”


However, more directly tied to this sign, what I couldn’t get over was how just abt every single major MH campaign talked abt what we should be DOING to stigma – Stop, Stamp Out, Stomp, Erase, Eliminate.  I don’t mind being the bad guy given the $ that’s been spent on these campaigns, but they do EXACTLY what this sign’s making fun of, unsuccessfully. Is there a stigma? Yes. But when in the history of campaigns, has telling one “group/side” to stop doing things, ever worked?


When we use the verbs above in these “anti-stigma” campaigns, let’s call it like it is: we’re essentially telling a grp of ppl (a chunk from that 4in5) to stop treating, talking abt, whispering, judging another group (the 1in5).


These campaigns further re-enforce the erroneous notion that MH has a thick & definitive line between sick & healthy, as opposed to the reality – it’s on a continuum.


Can’t we come TOGETHER w our campaigns? It worked for cancer: “Everyone Knows Someone Effected.” Its what we NEED in this space too.

































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