Bust myths, challenge stereotypes and tune in this Mental Health Month
MYTH: You’re either normal or you’re mentally ill.
FACT: Mental health is a spectrum, and we all go through stages where we feel distressed, worried or disconnected. Everyone can benefit from good, accessible mental health support.
MYTH: A person is their diagnosis.
FACT: A diagnosis is like a framework for an individual to understand their symptoms and to help guide treatment. It’s not an entire identity. A diagnosis can be helpful, but it’s not a person.
MYTH: Everyone with a mental illness needs medication and psychology.
FACT: There’s lots of different ways people can find recovery, and many people use a combination of techniques and therapies to help them through.
When you hear the term ‘mental health’, what comes to mind? Unfortunately, there’s still lots of myths, misunderstandings, negative language and judgements associated with the concept of mental health. These can lead to stigma – a feeling that mental ill-health is something shameful.
The fact is that mental health affects everyone and is a broader concept than just dealing with any problems you may face. It’s about helping you to feel your best, cope with stressful situations and contribute to your community, whatever your personal situation.
Mental Health Month, which runs throughout October, is all about shining a light on mental health. It’s a great opportunity to challenge mental health stigma and to tune in to your own wellbeing. Here at Deakin, we want to talk about it, embrace it and normalise it – and give you any support you need to be the best version of yourself.
How to challenge mental health stigma
Your words and actions can have a big impact on the mental health of those around you. Something positive you can do is to become a mental health ally. This is as simple as noticing – and then challenging – stigma, which you can do in a range of ways:
Listen: Practise active listening, including being attentive to non-verbal communication. Listen to understand, not react, and ask questions if you need to. It can help to repeat things back to people to make sure you understand what they’re saying, especially if communicating is difficult for them.
Ask: Check in by asking things like, ‘Is this conversation still ok for you?’ Consider people’s boundaries and ask if there’s anything you can do to make the situation more accessible or comfortable; for example, ‘Would this conversation be more comfortable if we were side by side, rather than face to face?’
Get educated: There’s lots to learn about mental health, and the best place to start is from real-life experiences. There’s lots of creators on YouTube and TikTok who share their experiences, as well as podcasts, seminars and personal essays. Also check out resources from Beyond Blue, headspace and ReachOut.
Consider your language: Try not to use stigmatising language like ‘crazy’ or ‘mad’. If you’re talking about a situation, use words like ‘hectic’ or ‘chaotic’. When talking about a person, use ‘distressed’ or ‘angry’. If you notice others using these words, politely explain how this can negatively impact people who have experienced mental ill-health. Terms based on specific mental illnesses (‘psychotic’, ‘schizo’, ‘manic’) can also lead to prejudice and discrimination.
Ready to tune in to your own mental health?
During Mental Health Month at Deakin, here’s some ways you can look after yourself and focus on your wellbeing as you manage the added stress of the exam period:
- Try some yoga, meditation or pilates – DeakinACTIVE is running free online sessions during October.
- Understand the link between food and mood – explore the relationship between nutrition and brain health in this free three-week online course. Also check out our student-led healthy eating hub, Nourished @ Deakin, for recipe inspo and stay tuned for more helpful info during National Nutrition Week (16–23 October).
- Learn how to protect yourself online – online abuse can lead to depression, self-harm and even suicide. This dedicated self-defence webinar for women will give you practical advice on how to stay safe as you study and socialise online.
- Download the DeakinWELLBEING app – keep your uni life in balance and develop healthy habits with the app that’s your one-stop-shop for all things health and wellbeing.
Stay tuned for more info and resources throughout the month!
We also encourage you to access professional support whenever you need extra help. We offer a range of health and wellbeing services to support you during your time at Deakin.
For urgent support outside of business hours, contact Lifeline (13 11 14) or SuicideLine (1300 651 251) straight away. They’re available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.