- Always untrue
- Always negative
- Can be felt toward yourself
Stigma around mental illness includes having fixed ideas and judgments about mental illness and/or fearing and avoiding what is misunderstood. Stigma can appear as attitudes (thoughts and prejudices) and/or behaviors (bullying, avoidance, violence, etc.). There are significant consequences of feeling stigmatized, which can include limiting a person’s ability to attain and keep a job or safe place to live, reducing a person’s desire to seek treatment and support, fears of not being accepted by family, friends or the larger community, and avoiding relationships or social activities. The prejudice and discrimination felt by those with mental health issues might lead to believing these negative stereotypes, resulting in feelings of shame and guilt, as well as creating a barrier for individuals to seek the help they need. It is essential to be compassionate and thoughtful when talking about mental illness, using accurate and sensitive words.
Stigma can be understood in terms of three components: stereotypes, prejudice, and discrimination.