Experiencing stigma and discrimination

Experiencing Stigma and discrimination

If you have experienced stigma and discrimination due to mental health problems then it's likely to have had a profound impact on your day to day life because things that other people take for granted are harder to deal with. 

It can be difficult to talk about your own mental illness and when people do speak out they often feel that they are let down and misunderstood by family, friends, health professionals and work colleagues. Whilst recognising that this is often unintentional, it can have a big affect on being able to deal with your illness. 

Stigma and discrimination can make you feel like you don’t matter and it can be frustrating to think that others view a mental health diagnosis as a more important part of your personality than the person themselves. The impact that the actions and reactions of others have on an individual should not be underestimated. Stigma and discrimination can leave you feeling isolated and can affect your day to day life.


Common issues that people face

  • Difficulty in finding and keeping a job
  • Isolation from friends, family and daily activities
  • Harder to stay in stable long-term relationship
  • Fear to open up to professionals, family and friends about mental ill health
  • Anxiety about health due to overwhelming belief of not being listened to
  • Avoiding speaking to doctors about mental health concerns which means treatment and care is not given. This can also have a knock on effect on recovery
  • Making excuses for not going out places due to the fear of just telling people about feeling unwell mentally
  • Low self esteem from believing the stereotypes portrayed about mental ill health
  • Physical health can be affected too
  • Negative experiences makes it harder to ask for help 

Where does stigma and discrimination occur?

Anyone can be stigmatised at work, university, by a friend or sitting behind their keyboard chatting on social media. In reality, we're not immune from stigma and discrimination anywhere. That's why we all need to be prepared to challenge stigmatising behaviour and discrimination wherever we come across it: 

  • Education settings from school, college and university
  • Workplace environment: in employment or whilst applying for a job
  • Within the health service amongst other health care professionals
  • In ourselves – we self stigmatise
  • Through the media. From television programmes to radio, newspapers and magazines we read
  • Social settings such as a night out in the pub
  • On public transport
  • At home or from family members and friends
  • Because of your social class
  • When you experience mental illness along with another diagnosis e.g addiction