What is stigma? It is a subject with many aspects. Let me start off with a description from the UK mental health charity, Rethink.
“Stigma is something judged by others as a sign of disgrace and something that sets a person apart from others.
When something like mental illness, disability or addiction, is stigmatised, the issue will often be avoided due to making people feel uncomfortable. People may even mock these things to make them less threatening.
For those living with mental illness, the stigma imposed upon them in society can lead to a lack of funding for services and public education, difficulty in finding employment, or in getting a mortgage, or even holiday insurance.
Ultimately, the silence and lack of understanding about mental illness encourages feelings of shame, and discourages people to seek treatment or even to admit that symptoms they may be experiencing may be related to a mental illness.”
I guess my delay in blogging about stigma means that I don't have much to add on the subject. I do care about stigma and I try to combat it.
There is plenty of work going on to combat stigma. As a rule, more exposure in the media can help. That is as long as it is informed. Unfortunately, every negative story about mental health tends to increase stigma. It must be good if the general population are better informed about what mental illness is and about how common it is.
I think that mental health sufferers can get very isolated by their illness and this contributes to a different kind of stigma. They set themselves apart and are vulnerable to stereotyping.
Please feel free to add comments and describe your views of stigma.