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Date: 04/01/2023

Author Name: Tejashwini Havannavar

Qualifications: BA Philosophy, MA Philosophy, Logic-based Therapist (specialisation in Philosophical Counselling)

Designation: Former Consultant Counsellor, ACRO Mental Health Services.

Word count: 593 words

Reading time: 7 mins

Reviewed by: Sareem Athar, Aishwarya Krishna Priya, Mariyam Mohd & Ayesha Begum.

The stigma around mental health

Placing shame over someone's feelings, experiences and behaviours is a stigma (1). In our society, we see that laughing, ridiculing, and humiliating people over their unusual behaviour is a common situation we all have landed in (2). We are conditioned to believe and expect what falls out of that conditioning to become a common area of humiliation (3). We fail to understand that, as human beings, we are capable of flaws, imperfections, and bad experiences that shape us to behave in a way we have little or no control over(4). There is so much social stigma attached to one's mental health (5,6). Invalidating how one feels, dismissing while someone is talking about their problems and making someone feel as if their problem is not a huge one and trying to show them how the world has bigger problems than theirs are all ways to judge a person for their suffering (7).

Having negative attitudes towards people with mental health issues makes it even more difficult for the person suffering to open up and feel safe to talk about what they are going through; it is hard as it is to communicate what one feels (8).There are stereotypes regarding a person’s behaviour through which people conclude to outcast such people (9).People with disorders, emotional setbacks, and traumas have different perspectives toward life because these people are easily picked on and judged for their differences (10).Discriminating against people for their differences brings in more isolation, distress and loneliness (11).It is usually unawareness about mental health that causes stigma but to be aware, you also need to be open to learning and learn to let go of the conditioned mindset implied by society (12,13).

When people are labelled as ‘crazy’, ‘psycho’, ‘mental’, or ‘dangerous’, you stigmatise a person's mental illness not only are these insensitive terms, but they also stigmatise mental health issues making people feel like it's a shame to be a diagnosed with a particular problem which then makes it even more difficult for a person to seek help (14,15). People are made to feel weak for seeking professional help by judging them to be abnormal or treating them like nobody (16,17).

Mental health stigma can be of two types: self-stigma and social stigma (18).

Self-stigma is when a person with a mental illness feels shame, guilt or frustration about their mental illness, which then tends to make the problem even worse (19).Sometimes a person loses faith while battling their issues, resulting in feeling shameful about their situation (20,21). Sometimes looking at their friends, family, or surroundings, the feeling of not being normal or not being able to function normally takes them down, because of which they either sabotage their mental health or try to fit in and make it difficult for them (22).

Social stigma is the attitude society has towards people having mental illnesses (23).A biased outlook toward such people and making them feel abnormal or unfit causes stigma in society (24). Social stigma around mental illness causes damage not only to those who are suffering but also makes it difficult for the ones who want to open up about their condition (25).

It is completely okay not to be okay (26).It is only now that more people are being aware and empathetic toward mental illness (27).we have a long way to go, but small steps have already been taken (28).There's hope that people suffering do not feel shame about their illness and that people who want to talk about their struggles have a non-stigmatized society (29).

Audio-visual credits


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(3) Solmi M, Granziol U, Boldrini T, Zaninotto L, Salcuni S. Stigma and attitudes towards restrictive practices in psychiatry among psychology students: a network and path analysis study in an Italian sample. J Ment Health [Internet]. 2022;31(1):66–74. Available from:

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(9) Corrigan PW, Druss BG, Perlick DA. The impact of mental illness stigma on seeking and participating in mental health care. Psychol Sci Public Interest [Internet]. 2014;15(2):37–70. Available from:

(10) Chuang SP, Wu JYW, Wang CS. Self-perception of mental illness, and subjective and objective cognitive functioning in people with schizophrenia. Neuropsychiatr Dis Treat [Internet]. 2019;15:967–76. Available from:

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14. Corrigan PW, Watson AC. Understanding the impact of stigma on people with mental illness. World Psychiatry. 2002;1(1):16–20.

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17. Thornicroft G, Mehta N, Brohan E, Kassam A. Stigma and Discrimination. In: Principles of Social Psychiatry. Chichester, UK: John Wiley & Sons, Ltd; 2010. p. 331–40. [cited 2023 Jun 1]. Available from:

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25. Ahmedani BK. Mental health stigma: Society, individuals, and the profession. J Soc Work Values Ethics. 2011 Autumn;8(2):41–416. [cited 2023 June 1]. Available from:

27.Kearns M, Muldoon OT, Msetfi RM, Surgenor PWG. The impact of community-based mental health service provision on stigma and attitudes towards professional help-seeking. J Ment Health [Internet]. 2019;28(3):289–95. Available from:

28. Mathur Gaiha S, Ann Sunil G, Kumar R, Menon S. Enhancing mental health literacy in India to reduce stigma: the fountainhead to improve help-seeking behaviour. J Public Mental Health [Internet]. 2014;13(3):146–58. Available from:

29. Department of Health, Human Services. Stigma, discrimination and mental illness [Internet]. [cited 2023 June 1]. Available from:


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