Mental illness affects one in four Americans yet it is rarely spoken of and often misunderstood. Just like high blood pressure, high cholesterol or diabetes, mental illness is a treatable health issue, but stigma often prevents people from seeking the help they need to get better.
“Stigma” is when someone judges you based on some personal trait or condition. For example, people who have a mental illness or addiction are often judged by others to be less capable, or unable to achieve success in school or work, or seen as “bad” in some way. The people who do the judging are “stigmatizing” those they judge. They are saying people experiencing mental illnesses or addictions are somehow “less than” those who don’t have such conditions. This is wrong and usually based on lack of knowledge or misunderstanding by those doing the judging.
Stigma may be obvious and direct, such as someone making a negative remark about a person’s mental illness/addiction or treatment. Or it may be subtle, such as someone assuming that people living with mental illness are all violent or dangerous. You may even judge yourself. Some of the harmful effects of stigma can include:
- Lack of understanding by family, friends, colleagues or others you know
- Discrimination at work or school
- Difficulty finding housing
- Bullying, physical violence or harassment
- The belief that you will never be able to succeed at certain challenges or that you can’t improve your situation
We want people living with mental illness and addiction to have every opportunity for recovery, so we are participating in the national Stamp out Stigma (S.O.S.) campaign to help end the stigma of mental illness and addiction. Please take the pledge, show support, and talk about it.
Recovery is possible. We must educate and motivate ourselves and others with that fact. We need to say something. There’s strength in talking about it.
Stamp Out Stigma lands a 10 second spot in Times Square that runs every hour from 6:00 a.m. until midnight (airing 18 times per day):