Stigma is associated with negative stereotypes. Other people judge a person and stigmatize them for a personal trait or distinguishing characteristic they have. Sadly, many people with mental health conditions are stigmatized today, and this may lead to discrimination.

At times, the discrimination is blatant. In some situations, however, it may be subtle or unintentional. Either way, it hurts the individual and may change their view of themself. What are some of the harmful effects of stigma?

Harmful Effects of Stigma

Stigma comes with many harmful effects. A person might choose not to seek outpatient mental health treatment in Orange County to avoid being labeled as mentally ill and stigmatized. Friends and family may not understand what this individual is going through, and they may be subjected to harassment, bullying, or physical violence.

Men and women with mental illness often find they engage in fewer social activities, and they don’t advance as rapidly at work. At times, they may find it difficult to obtain housing, and insurance companies frequently fail to cover the total cost of mental health treatment. These challenges might lead the person to believe they will never have a better life regardless of what they do to succeed.

Coping With Stigma

A person can learn to cope with stigma. It involves putting themself out there and asking for help. Doing so is worth it when they see how seeking treatment can reduce the stigma and improve their lives. What steps can a person take to deal with stigma?

1. Seek Treatment: Many people hesitate to admit they need help. They worry about being labeled if they see a mental health professional. However, treatment will help them get the correct diagnosis so a plan can be developed to reduce the symptoms that impact their daily lives.

2. Stop the Self: Doubt and Shame-Men and women with a mental illness are often hard on themselves. They see mental illness as a sign of weakness and feel they should be able to overcome the illness without help. By seeking help, a person can overcome these beliefs and connect with others with the same condition. This will help the individual become more self-confident.

3. Spend Time with Others: People often isolate themselves from others rather than talk about their mental illness. However, they need the support of loved ones at the time. Tell others about the disease so they can provide this support and understanding.

4. Avoid Labels: Men and women with a mental illness often label themselves. They say they are the illness rather than stating they have the illness. Changing the way this is phrased helps them avoid equating themselves with the mental health condition.

5. Seek Support: Look for help from outside groups. The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) is an excellent place to start the search for programs and resources. However, there may be other programs offered by state and federal agencies that help with vocational rehabilitation and support for individuals with mental health conditions.

6. Ask for Help at School: Individuals with a mental illness who are in school should let educators know about this illness. They can then make accommodations to account for it. When the school doesn’t know about the disease, the student may face discrimination and suffer from poor grades. They won’t get the education they deserve.

7. Advocate: Every person with a mental illness should advocate for better treatment. Write letters to the editor and local, state, and federal leaders. Talk at events about mental health so others can learn about the challenges that come with a mental health diagnosis. Doing so helps to reduce the stigma surrounding these conditions.