If you have been the victim of stigma or discrimination during a mental problem, it is very likely that it left an imprint in your daily life.

It can be difficult to talk about your mental disorder, but when people decide to do it, they often feel abandoned and misunderstood by family, friends, health professionals and their co-workers. Although this often happens unintentionally, it can have a major impact on the ability to deal with the condition.

Stigma and discrimination can make you feel like you have no mission on this earth, and you may think that others view your mental health diagnosis as a more important than your personality. The interaction between actions and reactions on the part of others, which manifests itself on an individual, should not be underestimated. Stigma and discrimination can make you feel isolated and affect your daily life.

Common problems which people face:

  • Difficulties finding a job.
  • Isolation from friends, family and daily activities.
  • Difficulties maintaining long-term relationships.
  • Fear of disclosure to professionals, family and friends about mental health.
  • Feeling anxious when a person thinks that no one is listening to him.
  • Escape from mental health issues, and not showing concern to the affected ones.
  • Making excuses when a person does not want to go out, caused by fear of sharing that he does not feel well on a mental level.
  • Low self-esteem due to the “enslavement” of stereotypes about mental health.
  • Physical health can also be affected.
  • Bad experiences can make it difficult for people to seek help.

How and where do the beginnings of stigma and discrimination appear?

Anyone can be stigmatized at work, at university, by a friend or while sitting and communicating on social media. In fact, we are not immune to these two unpleasant sensations anywhere. This is why we must be prepared to combat stigma and discrimination, wherever we encounter this kind of phenomenon:

  • Doing activities at school, college or university.
  • In a work environment: while you are at work or when you are applying for one.
  • Between health professionals and other professionals in the same field.
  • In ourselves – we stigmatize ourselves.
  • Through the media – from television programs to radio, newspapers and magazines that we read.
  • Social events such as an evening out.
  • In public transport.
  • Coming from a poor family.
  • When you are struggling with a mental disorder and some kind of addiction at the same time.

Improper behavior as a challenge

Put yourself in the other person’s shoes that is in the receiving position of your words, behavior or actions and imagine how this makes them feel. Together or as individuals, we need to have the strength to regard anyone who fails to treat someone with a mental health problem with respect, dignity, or as equals.

Often people who behave inappropriately may initially have no intention of causing harm, they are just unaware of the negative impact of their words. Explaining the situation might be enough to prevent the same mistakes from happening again. The good news is that socially unacceptable behavior is increasingly not tolerated because awareness and better understanding of mental health is becoming popular. Phrases like “keep your head up” or “there are people who are worse than you” can hurt and affect those struggling with mental illness.

Examples of stigmatization:

  • Certain words (crazy, lunatic, psycho, stranger, little OCD).
  • Stereotypes such as white robe clothing as a Halloween costume.
  • Unnecessary offensive comments.
  • Photos that represent a mental illness or episode.

Other things to keep in mind:

  • Avoid judgmental comments based on mental disorders.
  • Don’t ignore a cry for help from a friend or family member, as you see their behavior as attention seeking, when in reality, looking for attention is nothing to be ashamed of, it’s a sign of strength.
  • Don’t make someone feel different because of a mental illness that can prevent them from recovering by doubting their problem – “Are you really sick?”
  • Accept the fact that revealing to friends and family is still a very discouraging experience for many with an unstable mental health. Be patient and wait until they are ready. Do not show frustration and be there to listen without judging them when the time is right.
  • Do not avoid a person diagnosed with a mental health problem. He is still the person you know, he just doesn’t feel well.