Mental health stigma and discrimination: blogs and stories

1 in 4 people will experience a mental health problem in any given year. When we make assumptions about how mental health problems will affect someone's behaviour, this makes it more likely that they will be singled out, or labelled as different, dangerous or strange. This is what we call stigma. Treating someone differently from how we treat others because of their mental health, whether consciously or subconsciously, is what we call discrimination.

People with mental illnesses often experience stigma and discrimination that can be worse than the illness itself. In our Stigma Shout survey, 9 out 10 people with mental health problems reported the negative impact of stigma and discrimination on their lives.

These blogs are written by people who have personal experiences of mental health stigma or discrimination and illustrate how it can affect them.

You can help by ensuring your friend or relative is not afraid to speak out about mental health or is left wondering where they can turn for help. Read our tips on talking or pledge to talk about mental health today >>


People don't understand how hard it is to live with anxiety

I've had anxiety since I was thirteen. It's never been diagnosed. To question whether you have a disorder and to be told by someone else are two different things. I'm scared of taking that step, it's too definite. I don't want to be told that I could have this for the rest of my life. I want to think there is always the possibility I will wake up and my anxiety has disappeared. This is a thought I want to hold on to.

Being able to talk about my mental health made it easier to cope

I’ve always found it difficult to talk about my feelings and thoughts. Words don’t seem to do justice the depth and intensity of these emotions. My automatic response is to say I’m fine. I’m trying to change this because as John Keating says Dead Poets Society “you must strive to find your own voice. Because the longer you wait to begin, the less likely you are to find it at all”. Until a couple of years ago I took these thoughts at face value. Having anxiety was my normal.

Those who discriminate against people with mental illnesses should be ashamed

Twenty-five years ago almost to the day I met a beautiful woman at a day centre for those living with mental health problems. I had been referred their due to my diagnosis of schizophrenia and was surprised to meet someone else with the same diagnosis; especially someone who glowed with life and could envision a future outside of the boundaries of the mental health system.

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