Mental health is a key aspect of overall wellbeing. According to the Centers for Disease Control, one in five Americans experience a mental health issue each year, but only half that number receive behavioral health counseling. What’s holding them back? For some, admitting to feelings of sadness, panic, or stress is an admission of weakness or a character flaw. The reality is that everyone—regardless of income, education, or age—experiences some periods of psychological distress, just as they experience physical illnesses and injuries. Behavioral health problems are no more a character flaw than an earache or sore throat.

According to On Our Sleeves, a site dedicated to mental health information, we can all help to normalize mental health challenges by following a few simple practices:

Use language that reduces stereotypes

Even more than physical ailments, a mental illness can often define a patient in the eyes of others. A person might be described as having cancer, but a person with a chronic mental health disorder is often described as being schizophrenic or bipolar. People are more than their ailments, and rather than using a label when discussing mental health, consider phrases that place the illness in context such as “they’re living with bipolar disorder.”

Empathize and offer support

When a friend or loved one opens up about their mental health struggles, take them seriously and listen with compassion. It’s easy to be flippant or make light of the issue. These are often difficult issues to discuss, and we often deflect such issues with humor. But this is a time to listen and express your concern. If you wish, show empathy by sharing rough times you’ve gone through and how you reached the other side. Give sound advice or offer your help to find a trusted source of treatment.

Get involved

There are many ways to fight the stigma around mental health. Educate yourself by conducting some basic online research. Share what you’ve learned and use the appropriate language to discuss mental health with friends and coworkers. Share your own mental health journey. Donate to a local cause or volunteer at a hotline in your area. For more information and tips, visit the National Alliance on Mental Illness at

Seek care for mental health

When you or a loved one are ready to seek professional care, you can start by speaking to your Kinwell provider. Your clinician can provide behavioral health support, which may include discussing your concerns, prescribing medications, or referring you to a mental health specialist for more complicated situations or conditions.

Psychology Today notes specific indicators that it’s time to ask for help. These can include:

  • Having difficulty completing everyday household tasks
  • Struggling to complete basic tasks such as getting out of bed, getting dressed, or eating
  • Having thoughts about hurting yourself or someone else or experiencing feelings of hopelessness
  • Feeling as if you are losing touch with reality

If you or a loved one are experiencing any of these symptoms, seek help from a professional. You can also call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 24 hours per day, 7 days per week, at 988, or get help by texting HOME to the Crisis Text Line at 741741.

Your Kinwell clinician can provide tools and techniques to manage behavioral health issues. Reach them through your MyChart app or call 833-411-5469 to schedule an appointment.