Overcoming the Stigma of Mental Illness

False beliefs about mental illness can cause significant problems. What can you do about stigma?

Stigma is when someone views you in a negative way because you have a distinguishing characteristic or personal trait that’s thought to be, or actually is, a disadvantage (a negative stereotype). Unfortunately, negative attitudes and beliefs toward people who have a mental health condition are common.

Stigma can lead to discrimination. You may even judge yourself. Some of the harmful effects of stigma can include:

  • Reluctance to seek help or treatment
  • Lack of understanding by family, friends, co-workers or others
  • Fewer opportunities for work, school or social activities or trouble finding housing
  • Bullying, physical violence or harassment

To help cope, view the article MENTAL HEALTH: Overcoming the Stigma and read the list of ways to help deal with stigma.

How do you fight stigma?

  • Talk openly about mental health
  • Be conscious about your words
  • Show compassion for those with mental illness
  • Be honest about treatment
  • Encourage equality between physical and mental illness

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