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Make It OK: Ending the power of stigma to live life at your 100%

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One in four people will have some kind of mental illness in their lifetime. Do you know how common one in four is? More common than grey cars. More common than people with tattoos, and more common than left-handed people. Sixty million Americans are affected each year.

Even though one in four people will have some kind of mental illness in their lifetime, many don’t get the help they need. Mental health is just as important as physical health, yet we seem to put our mental health on the back burner.

Mental illnesses are biological conditions that can be treated, just like cancer and diabetes. They cannot be overcome through will power and are not related to a person’s character or intelligence. Between 70 and 90 percent of symptoms are reduced when following individualized treatment plans.

It’s OK to feel unstable.
It’s OK to disassociate.
It’s OK to hide from the world.
It’s OK to need help.
It’s OK not to be OK.
Your mental illness is not a personal failure.

A public survey showed most people thought mental illnesses were related to stress, lack of willpower and weakness. THIS IS A STIGMA. It is time to end the stigma of mental health and make it okay. Mental illness is more common than diabetes (which is on the rise), yet we still struggle with talking about it compared to a physical illness.

I encourage you to overcome the fear of talking about mental health. You would be surprised of the journey others have taken that could support you on yours. I, myself have overcome an eating disorder and depression. Now I say overcome, but it definitely takes work every day. It is something I cannot do on my own. It takes time, patience and being honest with yourself and others.

It is never too early to start a conversation with someone who may be struggling with a mental illness. Sometimes we resort to silence because it can be hard to find the words to say. Simply ask, “How can I help?” Tell them, “Thanks for sharing. I’m here for you when you need me.” Talking about mental illness may be uncomfortable for you and your support person at first. However, the more we talk about it the easier it gets! Be nice, supportive, and listen.

Find out more information about ending the stigma of mental illness at MakeItOK.org. There is a lot of great information on how to start the conversation.

Megs Swenson
Certified Athletic Trainer and Wellness Coach
Webster, WI