Stigma, "a mark of disgrace associated with a particular circumstance, quality, or person." Unfortunately, negative attitudes and beliefs toward people who have a mental health condition are more common than we like to think. Stigma leads to discrimination in many cases. At times it's forward and obvious, like someone making a negative remark about your mental health or your treatment, or it may be subtle, such as someone avoiding you because they think you could be unstable, violent or dangerous due to your mental health.
Some side effects of stigma can be:
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
Health insurance that doesn't adequately cover your mental illness treatment
The belief that you'll never succeed at certain challenges or that you can't improve your situation
Steps to fight back the stigma
Be kind, to yourself and others.
Don't let stigma create self-doubt and shame.
Don't isolate yourself.
Don't equate yourself with your mental health.
Join a support group.
Get help at school.
Speak out against stigma.
Change your attitude towards mental health and be open to the idea that what might be true for you, isn't the case for others.
Judgment almost always stems from fear or lack of understanding rather than fact based information. Learning to accept your condition and recognize what you need to do to treat it, seeking support, and helping educate others can make a big difference in your life and the life of others.
Seek help today, with La Familia del Paso (915) 239-2955.
StigmaFree me. National Alliance on Mental Illness. https://www.nami.org/Get-Involved/Take-the-stigmafree-Pledge/StigmaFree-Me. Accessed April 25, 2017.
What is stigma? Why is it a problem? National Alliance on Mental Illness. https://www.nami.org/stigmafree. Accessed April 25, 2017.
Stigma and mental illness. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/mentalhealth/basics/stigma-illness.htm. Accessed April 25, 2017.
Sickel AE, et al. Mental health stigma: Impact on mental health treatment attitudes and physical health. Journal of Health Psychology. http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/pdf/10.1177/1359105316681430. Accessed April 25, 2017.
Americans with Disabilities Act and mental illness. Womenshealth.gov. https://www.womenshealth.gov/mental-health/your-rights/americans-disability-act.html. Accessed April 25, 2017.
Picco L, et al. Internalized stigma among psychiatric outpatients: Associations with quality of life, functioning, hope and self-esteem. Psychiatric Research. 2016;246:500.
The civil rights of students with hidden disabilities under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. U.S. Department of Education. https://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ocr/docs/hq5269.html. Accessed May 2, 2017.
Wong EC, et al. Effects of stigma and discrimination reduction trainings conducted under the California Mental Health Services Authority. Rand Health Quarterly. 2016;5:9.