Necessity of team effort to destroy mental health stigma

Importance of mental health support systems in fight for more open discussion, acceptance



Sophia Wilson tackles the importance of support systems.

SOPHIA WILSON, Public submission

Whether it be friends, family or peers at school, it is important to have a support system. Mental health support systems allow a group of individuals to provide help and resources to one another in relation to mental health issues and mental illness, as well as to watch out for each other’s wellbeing.

These do not have to be formal “systems,” although they certainly can be. Simply a group of friends who listen, understand and accept each other is incredibly valid and impactful. Practicing these activities can positively and dramatically affect the lives of all parties involved. 

The support provided to a person by their peers in such a group can even prove vital to that person’s safety, thus making these systems incredibly important. 

My own experience with mental health and mental illness has been such that I am no stranger to symptoms of depression and anxiety, with these becoming quite severe at various points throughout my life. 

I truly believe that I am here today because I had a support system in my family. However, this is not the case for many who struggle with their mental health and who experience mental illness. 

Oftentimes, unfortunately, family members may – either knowingly or unknowingly, willingly or by accident – exacerbate the difficulty of hardships another member of their family experiences. 

The number of people in that person’s support system is thereby lessened by this circumstance, which can have extreme consequences. This is especially true if the person is already having struggles or symptoms of mental illness.

If we actively create more networks of support within our communities by being more inclusive, more willing to help and listen to others and more understanding of each other, the states of our own, our peers’ and our loved one’s mental health will not as often become so dire.

Despite greater awareness on the subject, mental health is still a fragile topic that faces much scrutiny in today’s society. The negative stigma can often prevent someone from feeling comfortable or safe enough to seek and receive the help they need. 

This is one reason why these support networks are so important. 

Simply just “being there” for our peers, friends and family members helps in dismantling the stigma. Providing open ears, an open mind and an open heart allows others to understand that it is okay to talk about what they are going through. It can also teach us the same notion. 

Through this, one may be encouraged to reach out for more care, which can oftentimes be very difficult.

Providing a helpful, supportive and compassionate presence in someone’s life is an act that can enable all of us to become more comfortable with the conversation surrounding mental health.

Mental health support systems, in which we engage in active listening and work to better understand each other, are crucial to continuing the vital work of breaking down the stigma surrounding mental health and decreasing the barriers to access of mental health care.