Find resources, support and advice related to removing the stigma of mental health and helping everyone to have a healthier attitude towards mental health.
What is stigma?
Stigma is a societal reaction which singles out certain attributes, evaluates them as undesirable, and devalues the persons who possess them. Agnes Miles 1981.
Dictionary definitions include stigma as a mark of disgrace or infamy; a stain or reproach, as on one’s reputation.
Goffman defines stigma as an “attribute that is deeply discrediting”.
Tackling stigma - campaigns and approaches
There are three main approaches that underpin activities that seek to tackle stigma. They are:
- “Illnesses like any other”. Activities that assume stigma is caused by people not recognising that mental health problems are illnesses like any other and a belief that unless distress is seen as part of an illness, people will blame sufferers for their own problems.
- “Social Model of Disability”. Activities that draw on ideas from the wider disability movement, namely the ‘social model’ of disability. This proposes that, rather than the problem for people with disabilities being the actual impairment, most difficulties lie in the way society organises itself.
- “A natural and normal response to life experiences”. Activities that are based on the idea that mental health problems are a natural and normal responses to the terrible things that can happen to us. This approach assumes that making sure that people’s experiences seem more understandable will help to tackle stigma by enabling people to empathise more. There is increasing evidence that even the most severe mental health problems are not the result simply of faulty genes or brain chemicals (i.e. “mental illness”).
Tell us what you think
What do you think causes stigma? Which approach(s) do you think will be most effective? What activities do you think might work best? Share your ideas, experiences and tell us if you would like to be more involved in activities that seek to “tackle stigma”?
Activities - A natural and normal response to life experiences
Activities – ‘An illness like any other’ approach
Articles on stigma
Stigma and Mental Health Strategy in Wales
Tackling the stigma surrounding mental health problems is identified in many strategies relevant to Wales.
- Together for Mental Health – National Welsh Strategy. More here.