Many people with mental health problems still report that the impact of stigma and discrimination is as bad or worse than the symptoms themselves.
Stigma and discrimination prevent people from seeking help. It isolates people, excluding them from day-to-day activities and making it hard to build new relationships or sustain current ones. It can stop people getting or keeping jobs.
I was talking to a guy on a night out, and I mentioned I had bipolar. He said ‘I can’t stand you bipolar lot. You bipolar women are a nightmare.’ The comment made me feel like I was unlovable and I was broken.
It could include:
- Losing contact with loved ones, because their friends or family don’t want to ‘deal’ with them
- Being refused work, having their status or role changed at work, or losing their job, because of their mental health problem
- Having their illness dismissed, for example being told to "man up" or “get over it.”
- Being called offensive names because of their mental health problem
- Being over-protected by friends, family or colleagues because of an assumption that they are less capable.
Discrimination can be very obvious, such as hate crimes or online trolling. It can be buried within employer policies or processes, and within laws that disadvantage people with mental health problems. It can take the form of subtle actions or comments that harm someone over time. It can be a small act that makes the person feel more isolated and ashamed, or it can be something that has a monumental negative impact on their life.
Specifically, we focused on:
- Improving public attitudes and behaviour towards people with mental health problems.
- Reducing the amount of discrimination that people with mental health problems report in their personal relationships, their social lives and at work.
- Making sure even more people with mental health problems can take action to challenge stigma and discrimination in their communities, in workplaces, in schools and online.
- Creating a sustainable campaign that will continue long into the future.