December 7, 2023

Healthy Choice

Healthy Choice The Only Solution

Go ‘beyond the surface’ to reduce stigma around mental health

Editor’s note: This article is part of Beyond the Surface, a series and new call to action to normalize mental health struggles and prioritize mental wellness. Beyond the Surface also aligns with the Healthy Boiler Program’s behavioral health pillar, which advocates for integrated care programs that focus on behavioral health and community support. Information will continue to be shared via email, Purdue Today and future Healthy Boiler newsletters on Beyond the Surface.

The stigma of behavioral health is real and can be damaging. All too often, the stigma is a barrier to those who want to seek help. The good news is that it can be changed. When individuals come together to go Beyond the Surface with trusted individuals, the stigma can be broken.   

See this video and the information below for some practical ways to reduce the stigma: 

  • Talk openly: Find someone you feel safe talking to about your mental health struggles. 
  • Be conscious of language: Words matter. Instead of saying, “I’m bipolar,” for example, use “I have bipolar disorder” or “I struggle with mental illness.” Use language that separates the person from the condition or feeling.  
  • Be kind: Show compassion for what is being experienced, and treat everyone with respect.
  • Remember that taking care of your mental health is a positive choice: Whether it’s your mind or body (or both), taking care of yourself is always a healthy decision. 
  • Refrain from making jokes: Making fun of someone with mental illness doesn’t make light of it. Instead, it only increases the stigma and diminishes the importance of mental health on our total well-being. 

How to talk about behavioral health:

Another way to break the stigma is to talk more openly about behavioral health. The more that happens, the less scary it becomes. It also helps make mental health struggles more normalized — something we can all relate to at some point. 

If you’re the one who is struggling, this can be a difficult step to take. Pick someone you trust to confide in, or talk with a counselor who can help you process your feelings and guide you on healthy coping skills.  

If you notice a friend or colleague is struggling, or you are approached by someone to talk, consider some of these conversation starters to help guide your talk:  

  • “It sounds like you have been going through a difficult time. What can I do to support you?”
  • “Talk me through some of your concerns.”
  • “Although there may be things out of my control to change, I would like to problem solve and support you in ways that I can. Is there anything I can do to make you feel supported?”  

Need Help? Tap into these resources.

  • Health Plan: Purdue’s health plan coverage for mental health conditions includes medication, office visits, testing, and in-patient and outpatient treatment. In addition, Purdue’s prescription coverage does not specifically exclude any drug categories for mental health. See behavioral health referrals for a Tier 1 (HealthSync) or Tier 2 (in-network) provider. Additionally, all Purdue health plans have parity (Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity).
  • LiveHealth Online Behavioral Health: Anthem’s virtual health care service also includes visits with therapists and psychiatrists.
  • SupportLinc (username: purdue): Through our behavioral health partner for West Lafayette, benefits-eligible employees and dependents can receive free and confidential counseling sessions. Purdue Northwest, Purdue Fort Wayne and Purdue Global also have behavioral health partners for benefits-eligible employees and covered dependents.
  • Learn to Live: Digital tools — built on the proven principles of cognitive behavioral therapy — that can help you identify thoughts and behavior patterns and then learn to manage stress, depression, anxiety, substance use and sleep issues.
  • Mental Health Resources Web page: This hub lists the mental health resources Purdue and surrounding communities have available to employees.


Questions about behavioral health resources and insurance coverage can be directed to Human Resources at 765-494-2222, toll-free at 877-725-0222 or via email at [email protected].