While most of us regularly head to the clinic to check up on our physical health, far fewer of us are accessing services for our mental health. Too often, we don’t even know—or are too afraid—to ask for mental health services. A big part of that fragmentation stems from the stigma around mental health issues. When we’re ashamed to talk about problems like anxiety and depression, the demand for better mental health care just isn’t there.
So how do we encourage patients to talk about these issues, and provide the narratives that can help lead to better services? We flip the script, by empowering patients to share their stories.
We start by turning to a population in transition—college seniors—who are still in a position to demand better health care services from their universities. With the help of student organizations and college health services at the University of Colorado, we can build the platform necessary to carry out the initiative—whether it’s videos, or podcasts, or in-person meetings. Once a program is up and running, we can use it as a framework to expand to universities across the country. As more and more people share their stories, the stigma will break down—and better access to healthcare will follow.