False beliefs and stigma around mental health disorders can cause significant problems and lead to discrimination. Stigma is when someone views you in a negative way because you have a mental health disorder. It can make people reluctant to seek help and cause them to feel they have fewer opportunities for work or social activities. Some even fear they will be bullied or harassed for having a mental illness, and many worry their health insurance won’t cover treatment. Stigma can be overwhelming and cause someone to think they’ll never be able to feel better and improve their situation, but nothing could be further from the truth. People can and do recover, live meaningful lives, and help each other with the recovery process.
Ways to reduce stigma:
- Education. Attend a Consumer Educational Activity or a Provider Educational Activity.
- Be an example of how to live well with a mental illness and Tell Your Story!
- Encourage others to seek help or treatment for their mental health concern.
- Be Active in your community!
Most importantly, don’t let stigma prevent you or someone you know from seeking help. Seeing a mental health counselor can help identify what’s wrong and reduce symptoms. Reach out to people you trust for compassion, support and understanding. You can also learn NAMI’s three steps for being StigmaFree, Speak Out Against Stigma, and learn about Mental Health Parity and your Rights and Responsibilities.