The Facts About Stigma and Discrimination
Stigma often brings experiences and feelings of shame, blame, hopelessness, distress, misrepresentation in the media, and reluctance to seek and/or accept necessary help. Approximately 75% of people with a mental illness report that they have experienced stigma.
In fact, according to a study published in the Journal of Health and Social Behavior:
- 38% of people do not want to move next door to someone who lives with mental illness
- 56% do not want to spend an evening socializing with someone with mental illness
- 33% do not want to make friends with someone who lives with mental illness
- 58% do not want to work closely with someone with mental illness
- 68% do not want someone with mental illness to marry into their family
Can We Challenge Stigma?
Every one of us has the ability to help reduce stigma and encourage compassion and tolerance. We can support people with psychiatric disorders and their families through recovery and social inclusion and by reducing discrimination. Simple ways to help include:
- Learning and sharing the facts about mental health and illness
- Getting to know people with personal experiences of mental illness
- Speaking up in protest when friends, family, colleagues, or the media display false beliefs and negative stereotypes
- Offering the same support to people when they are sick, regardless of whether it’s with a physical illness or a mental illness
- Not labeling or judging people with a mental illness, and treating them with respect and dignity, as you would anyone else
- Talking openly of your own experience of mental illness: the more hidden mental illness remains, the more people continue to believe that it is shameful and needs to be concealed