20 Bloor St. East,
P.O. Box 75138,
Toronto, ON, M4W 3T3

Stigma Surrounding Mental Illness

The essence of stigma is a negative and prejudicial attitude toward someone with a mental illness. Discrimination occurs when people with a mental illness are treated unfairly, or are denied their rights because of their mental illness. Stigma is a mark of shame, disgrace or disapproval and results in rejection or discrimination. Stigma is a reality for people living with mental illness and they report that how others judge them is one of the greatest barriers to a complete and satisfying life. This stigma surrounding mental illness continues to be pervasive in our society and it prevents people from getting the help that is available and the help they need. Nearly two thirds of all people with a diagnosable mental health issue do not seek treatment. Even though there is clear, scientific evidence that these illnesses have a biological basis, many people still feel that a person with a mental illness is somehow responsible. As a result, they are unfairly discriminated against as far as employment, education, relationships and even health care.

Effects of Stigma
    • Stigma discourages people from getting help
    • Stigma results in prejudice and discrimination
    • Stigma excludes people from day to day activities
    • Stigma stops people from getting and keeping jobs and advancing in the workplace
    • Stigma has a negative impact on physical health
    • Stigma delays treatment and impairs recovery
    • Stigma leads to low self esteem, isolation and hopelessness
    • Stigma affects families as well – “stigma by association”




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