In our NAMI support groups, we read principles before each session begins. One addresses stigma: “We reject stigma in ourselves and others.”
Stigma is when someone views a person in a negative way just because they have a mental health condition. Some people describe stigma as a feeling of shame or judgement from someone else. Stigma can even come from an internal place, confusing feeling bad with being bad.
Navigating life with a mental health condition is tough enough, and the isolation, blame and secrecy that is often encouraged by stigma can create huge challenges to reaching out, getting needed support, and living well. Stigma is toxic to a person’s mental health because it creates an environment of shame, fear, and silence that prevents many from seeking help and treatment.
The perception of mental illness won’t change unless we act to change it. This is something we work on every day at NAMI California — striving to eradicate stigma associated with mental illness across our Golden State. We know we can change the way the world sees mental health.