Understanding Mental Health Stigma and Discrimination

Mental health problems can be hard for anyone to cope with but it can be made worse by having to deal with stigma and discrimination from others.

Many people will not seek support due to the stigma they expect to face and the self stigma of feeling a burden. 

No one should ever be made to feel ashamed or embarrassed to tell anyone that they experience mental health problems. 

To stigmatise and discriminate is to mark someone as different.

Self Stigma

Self-stigma often brings itself to light from existing prejudicial attitudes. 

It can lead people into believing that they aren't capable of things such as getting a job, or going into further education. This can result in them withdrawing, feeling frustrated, angry, experience low self esteem and lack of confidence in their future. As a result many are at risk of defeating their own personal goals and ambitions. Everyone has the right to lead a fulfilled life and people who intimidate others or make them feel worthless need to be challenged.


Prejudice is when people form an opinion before becoming aware of and understanding the relevant facts.

Prejudice can also stir up emotional responses such as fear or anger towards the people who are being stigmatised. These judgemental preconceptions endorse negative stereotypes which can have a major impact on someone who experiences mental health problems. These attitudes can have a major impact on people's lives - making them feel bad about themselves.

Stereotyping people can have a major impact on people's lives - making them feel worse about themselves and hindering recovery.  We need to understand the impact that words and actions can have and challenge judgemental behaviour and preconceptions at its roots.


Discrimination is when someone treats you less positively or appropriately than other people because of your mental ill- health. An example of this is not inviting someone for a job interview based on disclosure of a mental health problem.

If you have experienced anything like this, or know someone who has, your human rights have not been respected or upheld.  That's exactly the kind of behaviour that we need to stop. By speaking up and speaking out we can change attitudes and lives. 


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