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What is Stigma?

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:

  • exclusion
  • bullying
  • punishment
  • physical abuse
  • emotional abuse

For More Information

Pathstone Mental Health is the primary provider of children's mental health treatment in Niagara.

The Canadian Mental Health Association supports the resilience and recovery of people experiencing mental illness.

Community Addiction Services of Niagara provides access to treatment resources for individuals and their families with alcohol and drug concerns.

Kids Help Phone is a free, anonymous and confidential phone and on-line counselling service for youth.