Fighting the Stigma of Mental Illness [A Health Power Tip Sheet]

Think a lot about the stigma associated with mental illness, and help to remove it, as the term mental illness is currently being overused, misused, and often misunderstood. As a result, there is often:

– reluctance of self, family and even some professionals to acknowledge its possible existence;

                        – reluctance to seek treatment, and

                        – frequent difficulties in achieving socialization and productivity.

Consider the following:

  1. Stigma disrespects and uses negative labels for persons with mental illness.
  2. Stigma discourages individuals and their families from seeking help.
  3. Stigma can be so hurtful that many people would rather tell employers that they served time in jail for a petty crime  than admit having been in a psychiatric hospital.
  4. Stigma can result in inadequate insurance coverage for mental services
  5. Stigma can lead to fear, mistrust, and violence against people living with mental illness, and their families.
  6. Stigma can cause families and friends to turn their backs on people with mental illness.
  7. Stigma can prevent people from getting access to needed mental health services.
  8. Stigma often lowers self-esteem, which everybody needs, especially the mentally ill, because of the stigma associated with their illnesses.

 

What to Do:

  • Always use respectful language.
  • Emphasize people’s abilities, not their limitations.
  • Tell a person if they express a stigmatizing attitude.

What Not to Do:  

  • Don’t suggest that successful persons with disabilities are super human.
  • Don’t use generic or stereotyping labels like retarded, or mentally ill. Every person’s situation is different.
  • Don’t use terms like crazy, lunatic, manic depressive, or slow functioning.

Remember Health Power’s Motto:  Knowledge + Action = Power!

 

 

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