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The Best Way to Stick it to Stigma: Share Your Wins

This Mental Health Awareness Month, I wanted to share a powerful, evidence-based tool to create space and hope in the conversation around mental illness. It’s a low-effort, high-return strategy that could lead to more people than ever seeking care and getting better. 

The simple tip is this: Share your wins. Your success stories. Your ah-ha moments. 

A recent study out of Germany gathered a group of 142 adults who said they had negative views of therapy. One subset of the group was shown client testimonials of people talking about their struggles with mental health. Another was shown videos where clients focused on the positive outcomes they’d achieved through therapy. The group that watched the outcomes-focused video had significantly greater increases in expectations that therapy is effective.

Participants in the group that viewed the positive stories were more likely to see therapy as a helpful and effective tool for addressing mental health issues. They were also less likely to feel as though they would be stigmatized for seeking help.

The most important takeaway is that while it’s so important to be vulnerable and talk about our mental health struggles, to truly chip away at stigma, it’s also imperative to share stories of when therapy made a difference. When we share what it’s like to feel better, or to see a positive change in our lives, with a focus on recovery, we show others who are struggling that there’s hope—and it may give them the boost they need to seek care. 

What does it feel like to have a longer fuse with your partner or kids, or fall asleep easily at night and wake up refreshed? How did you start to let go of the racing thoughts and paralysis that can come with anxiety and find confidence in your ability to cope with problems? What conversation did you have with your mental health care provider that changed the way you approach your day-to-day life?

For me, it was an incredible experience with a parenting specialist through my Lyra benefit. My greatest learnings were two things that sound simple and intuitive, but really aren’t. She taught me how to notice how many of the things I said to my daughter were corrective versus validating, and I was shocked at the ratio. She also taught me that while I might spend most of my day in support of my daughter by cooking her meals, providing for her, helping her, I needed to tune in to more quality one-on-one time that really focused on just spending time with her and enjoying her presence. Almost two years after finishing up therapy, special playtime remains our favorite part of the day.

I focused on these simple shifts in my behavior and it changed our relationship and our family in so many positive ways. 

This Mental Health Awareness Month, I encourage you to share your successes, along with your struggles. See the strength there is in the vulnerability that comes with talking openly about your care journey. For every person that speaks out, another might find the courage to seek help. Together, we can stick it to stigma.

Follow our #stickittostigma hashtag this month and keep an eye out for our surveys and blog posts to learn more about how we can work together to reduce stigma and change lives. 

By Connie Chen, MD
1 of May 2023 - 2 min read
Mental health tips
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