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 >>


We need to challenge the fear we have of talking about mental illness

You miss school because you need a mental health day and people will ask you what was wrong and you’ll lie about it. For a moment you’ll hesitate, maybe tell the truth - but then, before you know what you’re doing, you’re lying and saying that you just had a migraine. You didn’t have a migraine. It’s then that you realise that you’re ashamed of your mental illness, embarrassed even, and you don’t know why. Maybe, it’s because mental illnesses are so often invalidated, deemed as unreal and ‘all in your head’ (where else is it supposed to be?).

My experience on a psychiatric ward showed me we're all the same

‘I want to join ISIS,' Barry said.
I look up at him, towering over me.  He's serious.
'But they kill people, Barry,' I said. 
'Yeah.  But I like their robes.'

I try to remind myself to take everything with a pinch of salt, because this is a mental health ward, but to me it feels a bit like Big Brother.  Once the realisation, the inertia, of being on a ward wears off you just get on with it.  You forget about the cameras on the walls.  The outside world stops being real.

Being open about my anxiety helped people understand what it's really like

I've lived with anxiety since I can remember. My mum died at a young age and other life events along the way have led me to suffer from crippling panic attacks and constant worry. My mind can be a very hyperactive place and I tend to obsess a lot, whether that's feeling bad about the way I've said something to someone or entertaining a really awful thought and then torturing myself with it.

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