Effective Communication Is Important When Combating Stigma

May 17, 2021 Laura A. Barton

It's always nice to see folks speaking up in the name of mental health awareness. Continuing the conversation about mental health and mental illness is one of the key things we can do when combatting mental health stigma, but it's important to communicate in these situations effectively. I'd like to use what happened with Demi Lovato and a small frozen yogurt business as a starting point and example for this conversation.

An Example of Ineffective Communication to Combat Mental Health Stigma

While there is a saying that goes, "all publicity is good publicity," I don't think the same can be said for combatting mental health stigma. In the following video, I discuss why Demi Lovato has recently come under fire for what she argues was an awareness effort on behalf of eating disorders and why this was ineffective.

2 Tips to Foster Better Communication for Combatting Mental Health Stigma

There are ways we can foster better and more effective communication for combatting mental health stigma. I strongly believe that we do need to look at things like how products are marketed and how businesses might impact their customers. While I know it's unreasonable to think that every business can cater to every client, it's still worth considering, especially for businesses that want to grow their client base. For instance, Demi Lovato took particular umbrage to the use of the term "guilt-free," which I can understand since that's often used in harmful diet culture and can be triggered to those struggling with eating disorders ("Shame Traps You in an Eating Disorder But You Can Break Free").

Still, how we communicate or handle our feelings about this kind of mental health stigma, or any kind of mental health stigma, is important. Because of that, I want to share two tips on how we can foster this kind of communication in a more positive way.

  1. Take a moment to pause and calm down from being triggered. If you're like me (and, seemingly, like Demi Lovato), mental health triggers and associated stigma elicit a strong reaction. But even if you're mad about stigma or upset in some other way, it's helpful to stop before acting on that trigger. That way, you can approach the situation with a clear mind and more effective communication.
  2. Build a toolkit for when you're triggered by mental health stigma. While it's a nice thought, not every situation can be trigger-proof. There are just too many variables, and, in some cases, people won't be considerate of those things. That's why it's useful to build a trigger toolkit. Maybe it's a literal kit of items that can help you or something more metaphorical like a group of people you can reach out to. Either way, this is a useful resource for your mental wellbeing.

I hope this has shed light on why communication is important when effectively combatting mental health stigma. We need to continue having conversations about stigma, mental health, and mental illness, and the more positive and constructive the conversation can be, the better off we are at breaking the stigma we face.

APA Reference
Barton, L. (2021, May 17). Effective Communication Is Important When Combating Stigma, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, July 19 from

Author: Laura A. Barton

Laura A. Barton is a fiction and non-fiction writer from Ontario, Canada. Follow her writing journey and book love on Instagram, and Goodreads.

Lizanne Corbit
May, 17 2021 at 10:00 pm

I love your suggestion for building a toolkit! This is wonderful advice and something that is so applicable. This is a beautiful concept. These kinds of conversations are so important and truly a key piece in how we can effectively combat stigma.

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