Stigma is a mark of disgrace associated with a particular circumstance, quality, or person.

People with mental health problems say that the social stigma attached to mental ill health and the discrimination they experience can make their difficulties worse and make it harder to recover. Mental illness is common.

How can we stop stigma?

  • Know the facts. Educate yourself about mental health problems.
  • Be aware of your attitudes and behavior. We've all grown up with prejudices and judgmental thinking.
  • Choose your words carefully.
  • Educate others.
  • Focus on the positive.
  • Support people.
  • Include everyone.

How can we overcome stigma?

  • Get treatment. You may be reluctant to admit you need treatment.
  • Don't let stigma create self-doubt and shame.
  • Don't isolate yourself.
  • Don't equate yourself with your illness.
  • Join a support group.
  • Get help at school.
  • Speak out against stigma.

Katherine, Talks about Stigma

My name is Katherine Garcia and my personal relation to mental health is through my family and friends. I was 15-years-old when I was first introduced to the mental health disorder-addiction. I was 19 years-old when I was introduced to the Bipolar Disorder. I've known my best friend for about 10 years now. Within the first year of knowing each other we became very close, in turn I became close to her family as well. For the first two years, her mom was sober. Suddenly that changed, and so did the life of my best friend. When her mother drank, she became this other women that NO one knew or recognized. 

Her addiction sabotaged all of her relationships outside of her home which left her extremely dependent on her kids and husband. In many ways this affected my friend, and for many years she didn't know how to help her mother nor did I know how to help her. We decided to start looking into ways to help one that is struggling with addiction. Throughout this period, it was difficult for everyone. We knew we needed to be the best support system to help my friend’s mom through this. But as uninformed 19- year-olds, this naturally drove us insane.

Four years later after trial and error with different programs and rehab centers her mother became sober but shortly after started experiencing episodes. She was diagnosed with depression and bi-polar disorder. Today, their family copes with it together. We've all learned that there is no cure, but there are ways in which we deal with it and make it easier to live with. My best advice to someone who wants to support a family or friend dealing with any mental health disorder, is to listen, understand and be patient.