Stigma is when someone sees you in a negative way because of a particular characteristic or attribute (such as skin colour, cultural background, a disability or a mental illness).
Stigma happens when a person defines someone by their illness or situation rather than who they are as an individual.
Stigma has made survivor recovery really difficult.
Some of the effects of stigma include:
- feelings of shame, hopelessness and isolation
- reluctance to ask for help or to get treatment
- lack of understanding by family, friends or others
- fewer opportunities for employment or social interaction
- bullying, physical violence or harassment
- self-doubt – the belief that you will never overcome your illness or be able to achieve what you want in life.
THINGS YOU CAN DO TO ELIMINATE STIGMA
- Know the facts. Educate yourself about mental illness including substance use disorders.
- Be mindful of your attitudes and behaviour.
- Communicate wisely, do not give off an aura of judgement
- Educate others
- Focus on the positive