What is Stigma?
- a negative or unfavourable attitude towards a group of people
- a fancy word for prejudice
- based on a trait that sets someone apart as different from others
- makes a person feel like he or she is different from other “normal” people
The stigma of mental illness marks an entire group of people as socially different, unacceptable or undesirable; it is this belief that leads to discrimination.
Stigma can happen anywhere:
- With friends and family who might not understand what the person is going through and may be reluctant to tell others about their diagnosis
- At school where peers can be very cruel and bully someone simply because they are seen as different
- In the media where mental illness is often sensationalized and people with mental illnesses are portrayed as violent, amusing or even pathetic
- In the workplace where an individual could be passed over for promotion or socially isolated from co-workers
Many people with mental illness say that the stigma associated with their disorder is often as hard (if not harder) to deal with than the symptoms of their illness. They often feel judged, embarrassed, shamed and hated by others.
Discrimination can come in many forms, including:
- physical abuse
- emotional abuse