What is Stigma and How Does It Affect Your Mental Health?
Stigma is a term that’s heavily associated with mental health — you’ve likely heard it before. In fact, the very first goal stated in Modern Health’s mission is to destigmatize mental health care. But what is stigma, and how does it affect our collective perception of mental health? Stigma involves negative attitudes about mental health. While the conversation around mental health is improving and the topic is part of today’s zeitgeist, stigma is still common — and is a serious issue. Stigma may lead to delays in treatment and reduce the chances that a person will receive appropriate and adequate care during the ebbs and flows of mental health each of us will experience throughout our lives.
In this post, we will further define and examine stigma to promote awareness of its damaging consequences.
Types of stigma
Researchers have identified three different types of mental health stigma:
Sources of stigma
Stigma often arises due to a general lack of understanding or fear of mental health challenges. There are societal and cultural factors that feed into public and institutional stigma, including:
People who live with mental health challenges often experience thoughts or behaviors that lead to self-stigma and prevent them from seeking treatment, including:
The difference between stigma and a lack of resources
Some barriers to mental health services go beyond stigma and are more closely related to a lack of resources and access to care. For many, the importance of mental health and well-being is not part of their education, and as such, they don’t openly discuss these topics. People are not always biased — sometimes they lack understanding.
Adequate access to mental health care is also a big issue and disproportionately affects marginalized communities. Some of the barriers preventing these populations from receiving care include:
Impacts of stigma
Stigma affects individuals with mental health challenges and the loved ones who support them, and the consequences can be severe. Stigma can fuel fear, anger, and intolerance toward people and mental health services. Harmful effects of stigma include:
Promoting education on the topic is crucial to destigmatizing mental health everywhere. If you’d like to learn how you can support workforce well-being in your organization, you can find resources here or schedule a demo today.
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