What is Mental Health Stigma?
Stigma means a negative stereotype – when people believe something bad about a person or group. Stigma often is based on inaccurate information, such as:
- Poor news reporting
- Overly dramatized TV shows and movies
- Repeated stories and inaccurate facts – like gossip or rumours, the stories get spread around and believed
Stigma is negative because it influences behaviour, such as discriminating against an individual or group of people. Discrimination against people with mental health concerns can take many forms, such as:
- Isolating the person at school or at their workplace
- Rejecting the person’s application to rent an apartment
- Refusing to hire them for a job
Because of stigma, some people don’t talk about their mental health concerns – and they don’t get the treatment they need.
In Canada, a lot of work is being done to prevent and reverse the effects of stigma on mental health, including:
- “Mental Illness Awareness Week” campaigns encourage people to talk about mental health concerns (usually the first week of October).
- There are increased initiatives to talk openly about mental health and be more accepting of mental health concerns, many lead by The Mental Health Commission of Canada.
Stress Hacks encourages you to not let stigma deter you from seeking the help your family may need. Visit some of the websites suggested in the Links and Resources section to find out more about mental health services and anti-stigma campaigns in Canada.