Reducing Stigma

Have you ever felt left out or judged by people because they thought you were different from them? Maybe you felt misunderstood...embarrassed, alone, or even afraid? That is what stigma might feel like.

 So what is stigma?

Stigma is a set of negative beliefs and prejudices about a group of people, as well as negative behaviors towards groups of people. Many people face stigma because of their race, religion, gender, sexuality, economic situation and a variety of other things.

 How does stigma affect people?

Did you know that 46% of Canadians thought people use the term mental illness as an excuse for bad behaviour?

People living with mental illnesses often face stigma. This can occur when people do not understand mental illnesses and as a result treat people living with mental illnesses as outcasts or may even think that they are dangerous. This type of stigma can make people with mental illnesses feel ashamed, hopeless, stressed or that they are to blame for their illnesses. This makes it hard for people to reach out for help or accept help.

It's important to remember that mental illnesses are like other health conditions. They need proper treatment and support. The sooner someone gets help, the better the outcome will be.

 How can you help reduce stigma?

You can think about your own beliefs. Do you have stereotypes and prejudices about mental illnesses? Do you judge people with mental illnesses?

You can also think about the words you use in everyday conversations. Words like "crazy" or "psycho" can hurt people with mental illnesses and make them feel afraid or hopeless.

As well, you can learn more about mental health, mental illness and addictions from trusted source like the Canadian Mental Health Association, the Mental Health Commission of Canada, the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health and Bell Let's Talk. This will help you understand more about what people living with mental health challenges and illnesses feel and provide you with information on how best you can support.

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