Stigma Watch


Do you realize that a person with a mental illness puts up with a lot more than their illness? Stigma contributes another major stress which they can well do without. They have told me that stigma and prejudice are as distressing as the symptoms of the illness itself.

Mostly, stigma against people with a mental illness involves inaccurate and hurtful representations of them as being violent, comical or incompetent;  dehumanizing them and making these people an object of fear or ridicule.

When stigma occurs in the media it can be in the form of reports that refer to inaccurate stereotypes, sensationalized issues through unwarranted reference to mental illness, the misuse of medical terminology or the use of demeaning or hostile language.

Stigma in the media is especially harmful because the media plays such an important role in shaping and reinforcing community attitudes.

Some of the  most harmful effects of stigma occur when it alters how people view themselves also known as self-stigma.

Self-stigma is the acceptance of prejudiced perceptions held by others. This can lead to the reluctance to seek treatment, excessive reliance on relatives, social withdrawal, poor self-worth, and it may also lead to the abuse of alcohol and drugs.

While stigma is an opinion or judgment held by individuals or society, if they are acted on, these actions can be considered to be discriminatory.

Discriminating against someone at work, denying access to education, accommodation, entry to certain premises, membership of a club or association, or the provision of services, is unlawful under the Disability Discrimination Act.

Taken from an article on the Australian website, SANE.

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