By Amanda Kearney-Smith

I’ve heard many times that “stigma does not have an impact on people seeking treatment. Its no longer an issue.” – I think that people confuse improving attitudes about mental health with total acceptance.

For those of us who live with a chronic mental health condition, we know this is not true. Sadly, stigma is still very much alive and well and greatly impacts individuals who might seek treatment. Respect Humans Logo

In fact, in 2011, only 59.6% of individuals with a mental illness — including such conditions as anxiety, depression, schizophrenia, and bipolar disorder — reported receiving treatment (that we know of!). Source: http://psi.sagepub.com/content/15/2/37.full.pdf+html?ijkey=dDpyhM2zRi.Fg&keytype=ref&siteid=sppsi%2520

Stigma is a complex issue and many times people don’t even realize they are contributing to it. Patrick Corrigan has defined the various levels of stigma and how they lead to discrimination:

PUBLIC STIGMA

Stereotype              

Negative belief about a group (e.g., dangerousness, incompetence, character weakness)

Prejudice                

Agreement with belief and/or negative emotional reaction (e.g., anger, fear)

Discrimination    

Behavior response to prejudice (e.g., avoidance, withhold employment and housing opportunities)                                                     

SELF-STIGMA

Stereotype              

Negative belief about the self (e.g., character weakness, incompetence)

Prejudice                

Agreement with belief, negative emotional reaction (e.g., low self-esteem, low self-efficacy)

Discrimination    

Behavioral response to prejudice (e.g., fails to pursue work and housing opportunities)

Source: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1489832/
So, yes stigma is still alive and well and we need to end it! How do we do that? Stay tuned for some recommendations as we approach Mental Health Month! Together we can do this!

https://www.sane.org/mental-health-and-illness/facts-and-guides/reducing-stigma

Reducing Stigma Continued…
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Amanda Kearney-Smith

I founded the Network as the Executive Director in 2011 and, before that, I was a program director at Mental Health Colorado. My educational background is in Developmental Psychology, but living with bipolar disorder has drawn me to this work. I'm most passionate about protecting the civil rights and dignity of others. In my free time, I love reading, practicing yoga, and spending time with my family here and in Illinois.

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