Stigma and Mental Illness
Stigma 1. a mark of disgrace or infamy; a stain or reproach, as on one’s reputation 2. Med. A mental or physical mark that is characteristic of a defect or disease: the stigmata of leprosy
The Random House Dictionary of the English Language (2 nd ed. Unabridged)
What Does Stigma Lead To?
Stigmatization of people with mental disorders has persisted throughout history. It is manifest by bias, distrust, stereotyping, fear, embarrassment, anger, and/or avoidance. Stigma leads others to avoid living, socializing or working with, renting to, or employing people with mental disorders, especially severe disorders such a s schizophrenia (Penn & Martin, 1998; Corrigan & Penn, 1999). It reduces patients’ access to resources and opportunities (e.g., housing, jobs) and leads to low self-esteem, isolation, and hopelessness. It deters the public from seeking, and wanting to pay for care. In its most overt and egregious form, stigma results in outright discrimination and abuse. More tragically, it deprives people of their dignity and interferes with their full participation in society.
The Stigma that envelops mental illness deters people from seeking treatment. Stigma impedes people from seeking help for fear that the confidentiality of their diagnosis or treatment will be breached. It gives insurers-in the public sector as well as the private-tacit permission to restrict coverage for mental health services in ways that would not be tolerated for other illnesses.
What Can You Do About It?
Now you may join the NAMI Stigma Alert Listing and have all of the latest stigma updates delivered to your email account.
If you would like to add your name to the Stigma Alert mail listing, send an electronic mail to listserv@namiapollonian,com and in the body of the email, place the following:
subscribe nami-stigma-alert YOUR NAME, ADDRESS, PHONE, FAX AND OCCUPATION