Skip to main content

Understanding Stigma and its Effects


Learning objectives

  • Learn how to look after yourself when you are helping others with their mental distress
  • Learn how you can help your own mental health


Being a point of contact for conversation about mental health can be very rewarding however it can also be time consuming and emotionally overwhelming. Often being part of a support network for someone who is struggling with their mental health can be stressful and take a toll on your own mental health, so it is important to be aware of this when you are offering support, and being in the right head space yourself. 

Think carefully about how you will look after your own wellbeing and make sure you also have an appropriate support system in place. Having someone that you can talk to about the issues you are dealing with is crucial for you to be part of someone else’s support system. Discussing subjects or traumatic events that others close to you have experienced can have an impact on your own mental health, especially if you’re feeling unwell.

Learning self-care techniques and knowing what lifestyle choices affect mental health can be a great way to manage the symptoms of mental ill health. Also, by being able to recognise that you are struggling early, and then using these self-care techniques, it may also help prevent the problems from developing and getting worse. Just remember, it is unlikely that any of these will be an instant solution, recovering from a mental health disorder, or preventing one takes a lot of time, energy and work. So don’t be hard on yourself.

Stay aware of your mental health

Tell people what helps. By letting the ones around you know what support you need from them, they can be more aware of how to help you with your mental health struggles. Whether it’s as simple as them listening to you and talking to you, or being aware of your triggers, just telling them what you would like from them is a good way to help start a good support network. 

Know your early warning signs. Try and be aware of how you are feeling daily, this can be done by keeping a mood diary or just taking some time to be reflective on how your day was. It can be useful to reflect on how you are feeling so you can access support as soon as you feel it’s necessary.

Nourish your social life

Feeling connected to other people is really important as it can help you feel valued and wanted, as well as helping increase self-confidence. If you can, try and spend some more time connecting with your friends and family. Gaming is great for developing friendships and social connection, gaming together with people, sharing that same combined interest is a great way to develop supporting friends around you. There are a lot of different discord communities that you can join if you are struggling to meet people, including our own GvD discord that you can access through our website.

Peer Support

When experiencing mental health problems, it can feel like no one understands what you are going through, however peer support brings together people who’ve had similar experiences to support each other. Peer support offers a lot of benefits such as:

  • Feeling accepted for who you are

  • Increased self confidence

  • Meeting new people and using your experienced to help others

  • Fnding out new information and places for support

  • Challenging stigma and discrimination

Peer support groups are usually based locally, in the UK, Mind offer peers support groups, however, internationally it would be worth researching local peer support groups if you feel like it would help you.

Make time for therapeutic activities

Therapeutic activities and techniques like relaxation, mindfulness and meditation can all be practised alone and help with your own mental health. 

  • Relaxation - Find something that helps you relax. This can be doing anything, for example, going for a walk or taking a shower but as long as it works for you, make sure you set aside time to do it. 

  • Mindfulness - Mindfulness is a therapeutic technique that involves being more aware of the present moment, both the world around you, for example, the temperature in your room, but also inside like your feelings and thoughts. Practising mindfulness can help you become more aware of your own moods and reactions, however this takes time to perform well, and it doesn’t work for everyone.

  • Meditation - meditation is an umbrella term for the many ways to a relaxed state of being. There are many types of meditation and relaxation techniques that are called meditation. Finding the right one for you can be really helpful. However, guided meditation is the most common and as the name suggests, you can be guided through the steps. During meditation, you focus your attention and eliminate the stream of jumbled thoughts that may be crowding your mind and causing stress. This process may result in enhanced physical and emotional well-being.

Look after your physical health

By looking after your physical health, it can help manage your own mental health too. * Get enough sleep - make sure you try to set and keep to a sleeping schedule, this can help you have the energy to cope with difficult feelings and experiences.

  • Keep physically active - regular exercise doesn’t have to be very strenuous or high intensity to be effective. Simple and gentle exercises like going for a short walk can help keep you physically active. Exercise helps increase cortisol release, which helps us manage stress. It also makes us feel more tired at the end of the day which helps promote good sleep.  

  • Avoid drugs and alcohol - When struggling with mental ill health, it can often lead to a desire to use drugs or alcohol to deal with difficult feelings, however in the long run, they can make you feel a lot worse. 

  • Eat healthily - Getting 3 healthy, balanced meals a day, can make a big difference to how well you feel. Improving your diet may help to improve your mood, give you more energy, and help you think more clearly.