Be the change you want to see in the world
In 2020, there were 5,224 suicides registered in England and Wales, equivalent to a rate of 10 deaths per 100,000 people.
There were also a record-high numbers of drug and alcohol-related death, with 79.5% drug-related deaths and 130 alcohol-related deaths per million people in England alone.
This is the highest recorded figure since records began. Considering that most of these deaths were avoidable, why are these figures still so high? What is preventing individuals from seeking the help that they require?
Stigma is the barrier
Stigma is often the first barrier to seeking help for poor mental health and addiction.
Stigma is created through our perceptions, words, and actions. It forms stereotypes, judgement, and biases (both conscious or unconscious), meaning we stop seeing the human being behind the illness, which has a devastating effect on a person's ability to seek help and support, often with tragic consequences.
The use of everyday judgmental language and negative attitudes towards anyone experiencing poor mental health and addiction erodes an individual's self-esteem, creating feelings of low self-worth and the belief that there's no point in looking for help.
Stigma is like a wall that feels too hard to overcome.
What can we do to reduce stigma?
We can break down the walls of stigma and help more people access treatment just by taking small steps.
We can start by thinking about our own attitudes, actions and beliefs. We can consider the language we use and hear and challenge any derogatory terms being used to describe mental health and addiction, after all, words hurt.
We can focus on the person behind the poor mental health or addiction, rather than their condition, and begin to understand the reason behind it. These small changes can make a huge difference to the person needing support.
If you or someone you know is looking for support for mental health or substance use in Surrey, please visit the Healthy Surrey Mental Wellbeing web page or the Healthy Surrey Drugs and Alcohol web page.
You can also visit the End Stigma in Surrey web page for more information on the campaign to end mental health discrimination.
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