The word stigma has its origins in an ancient Greek word στίγμα that means brand or stain.

Well, stigmatisation of anything is not good. But stigmatisation of mental illnesses and disorders is much bigger issue that one could think.

As per WHO statement “Stigma results from a process whereby certain individuals and groups are unjustifiably rendered shameful, excluded and discriminated against.”

Many people who suffer from mental issues are afraid to talk about their problem although it is proven in multiple cases that talking about problems and learning about them can actually help a lot in order to understand one’s mental state and perhaps helping in curing the problem itself.

There are two main types of stigma: public stigma and self-stigma. Public stigma is the discrimination of public towards the patient. Self-stigma is the discrimination of the patient towards themselves.

Stigmatisation is very hurtful. It effects all prospects of patient’s life: social contacts as family and friends, via the difficulty of finding a job or keep one, to being simply afraid of going anywhere public.

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Stigma has its bad side effects. Better Health article says that patient can experience feelings of shame or hopelessness. Patient can experience a lack of understeanding by family or friends, they can be bullied or harassed, they live in constant fear, self-doubt and even are afraid of asking for help.

Stigma and discrimination can also worsen someone's mental health problems, and delay or impede their getting help and treatment, and their recovery. Social isolation, poor housing, unemployment and poverty are all linked to mental ill health. So stigma and discrimination can trap people in a cycle of illness. -

But how can we fight against the stigma?

Well, we need to be aware of differences between each individual. We should educate ourselves on the topics of mental well-being and mental illnesses. Given 1 in 6 people is suffering from mental health issues. It is important to know that they are more common than we really think.

We need to be more open-minded and more respectful. I personally think education helps and I try to understand why humans are different from others.

Big role also plays the socio-cultural background. In every culture the illnesses are treated differently. In order to destigmatise we need to understand and come up with a tool for each culture individually. What will work for Europe would not necessarily work in the USA or Japan or SAR.

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Corrigan PW, Watson AC. Understanding the impact of stigma on people with mental illness. World Psychiatry. 2002;1(1):16-20.


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