What is Stigma?

To stigmatise or discriminate against someone is to treat them unfairly with disgrace or disapproval. People who are stigmatised against are often labelled as ‘different’ and as a result, are excluded and devalued by society.

What is stigma?

To stigmatise or discriminate against someone is to treat them unfairly with disgrace or disapproval. People who are stigmatised against are often labelled as ‘different’ and as a result, are excluded and devalued by society.

Experiencing a mental health problem is hard for anyone to cope with. Seeking help to start your journey to recovery and rebuilding your life can be made much harder by feeling judged and treated unfairly.

To stigmatise or discriminate against someone is to treat them unfairly with disgrace or disapproval. People who are stigmatized against are often labelled as ‘different’ and as a result, are excluded and devalued by society.

People who experience mental ill health have to live with high levels of stigma. 9 out of 10 people in the UK living with mental health problems feel that stigma negatively affects their lives whilst research in NI has shown mental illness to evoke the most negative attitudes out of all the disabilities (Equality Commission NI, 2011).

Stigma around mental health can be:

  • A lack of knowledge and understanding about mental health

  • Negative attitudes, language and behaviours towards people with mental health problems

  • People with mental health problems being seen as an illness rather than an individual, devaluing their sense of self.

  • Discrimination and unfair treatment of people with mental health problems that places limits on their opportunities and rights

  • Lack of resources and unequitable funding for mental health services alongside lack of progress and innovation around mental health policy and legislation.

It can operate on multiple levels including:

  • Public stigma – where society collectively reinforces negative stereotypes about mental illness through channels such as the media.

  • Self-stigma – when individuals accept the negative attitudes of society and come to believe they are less worthy of respect than others due to their illness.

The effects of stigma on a person with mental health problems and those close to them are far-reaching and permeate daily life. It diminishes self-esteem and confidence, disrupts family relationships, limits opportunities in education and employment, social life and access to services. Perhaps most worryingly, it can prevent people from seeking the help and support they need.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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