Experiencing Stigma

If you feel that you or someone you care about is experiencing stigma, it's important that you feel supported as you start tackling it.

Stigma can significantly worsen someone’s mental health problems, defining them as an illness rather than a person with a meaningful voice and contribution to make. It can make it difficult to access treatment and begin the journey to recovering and rebuilding a life.

Where can it happen?

  • In the workplace or when trying to get a job.
  • At school or university.
  • In public spaces and social settings.
  • Within family and friendship circles.
  • Self-stigma, where a person believes the negative labels that society places upon them.
  • In the media, through the use of stigmatising language, stereotypes or characterisation of people with mental health problems, insensitive reporting of mental health-related stories in the news.
  • Within health services, from health professionals and staff.
  • When accessing public services such as transport, social security or housing.
  • At government/policy level through a lack of fair funding for mental health services and a lack of progress in developing and implementing relevant policy and legislation.

The ways stigma can impact on someone’s life include:

  • Difficulty in getting/holding down a job.
  • Social isolation from friends, family, community and social life.
  • Being labelled and defined by mental illness and not by who they are as a person.
  • Low self-esteem, which reduces the desire to participate in social life or pursue goals.
  • Reluctance to ask anyone for help.
  • Difficulty in accessing services and support.
  • Physical health can be affected.