Let others know that there is hope and understanding. You can change the way the world sees mental health.
What is Stigma? Why is it a Problem?
Stigma is when someone, or even you yourself, views a person in a negative way just because they have a mental health condition. Some people describe stigma as a feeling of shame or judgement from someone else. Stigma can even come from an internal place, confusing feeling bad with being bad.
Navigating life with a mental health condition can be tough, and the isolation, blame, and secrecy that is often encouraged by stigma can create huge challenges to reaching out, getting needed support, and living well. Learning how to avoid and address stigma are important for all of us, especially when you realize stigma’s effects:
- People experiencing mental health conditions often face rejection, bullying, and discrimination. This can make their journey to recovery longer and more difficult.
- Mental health conditions are the leading cause of disability across the United States.
- Even though most people can be successfully treated, less than half of U.S. adults who need services and treatment get the help they need.
- The average delay between the onset of symptoms and intervention is 8-10 years.
- Suicide is the second leading cause of death for youth ages 15-24 and the tenth leading cause of death for all Americans.
One in five Americans is affected by mental illness. Stigma is toxic to one’s mental health because it creates an environment of shame, fear, and silence that prevents many people from seeking help and treatment. The perception of mental illness won’t change unless we act to change it.
Campaign manifesto: There’s a virus spreading across America. It harms the 1 in 5 Americans affected by mental health conditions. It shames them into silence. It prevents them from seeking help. And in some cases, it takes lives. What virus are we talking about? It’s stigma. Stigma against people with mental health conditions. But there’s good news. Stigma is 100% curable. Compassion, empathy and understanding are the antidote. Your voice can spread the cure. Join NAMI, the National Alliance on Mental Illness. Together we can #CureStigma.
Take the CureStigma test today to see if you are affected by stigma. See the test results to learn about the effects of stigma and what you can do to help.
Here are NAMI’s Three Steps for Being StigmaFree
Educate Yourself and Others
Everyone knows a little about mental health issues but knowing the facts can help you educate others and reject stigmatizing stereotypes. They are not the result of personal weakness, lack of character or poor upbringing. Understanding mental health isn’t only about being able to identify symptoms and having a name for conditions, but dispelling false ideas about mental health conditions as well.
See the Person, Not the Condition
1 in 5 Americans live with a mental health condition and each of them has their own story, path and journey that says more about them than their diagnosis does. Whether you are a friend, family member, caregiver or medical professional, getting to know a person and treating them with kindness and empathy means far more than just knowing what they are going through.
Our mental health care system has been in crisis for far too long, often keeping treatment and recovery out of the hands of many who need it. We can take action now as we push for better legislation and policies to improve the lives of those around us. By lending your support, you can show that this cause is important to you.