Well-Being Canada Staff | 05/07/2024 | 2 minutes

8 ways stigma can affect mental health 

The way we talk and think about mental health can have a real impact on people who are suffering. The way we talk and think about mental health can have a real impact on people who are suffering.

The way we talk and think about mental health can have a real impact on people who are suffering. In fact, it’s well documented that stigma and discrimination can prevent people from getting the help they need. 

How? Consider these eight ways that stigma can affect mental health. 

1. It prevents people from seeking help 

Stigma can prevent individuals from seeking professional help due to fear of judgment or discrimination. Many people avoid therapy, medication or other treatments because they do not want to be labelled as “mentally ill.” 

2. It creates social isolation 

Individuals with mental health issues may withdraw from social interactions to avoid stigma. Because of that, they might experience loneliness and a lack of social support, making their conditions worse. 

3. It can create internalized stigma 

People with mental health issues might internalize societal stigma, leading to feelings of shame, guilt and low self-esteem. This can worsen mental health conditions and hinder recovery. 

4. It can have a negative impact on physical health 

The stress and anxiety caused by stigma can have a negative impact on physical health. Chronic stress from stigma can lead to conditions like hypertension, heart disease and weakened immune function. 

5. It can lead to impaired recovery 

Stigma can impede the recovery process by preventing individuals from accessing necessary resources and support. It can also discourage them when it comes to sticking to treatment plans and medication. 

6. It can affect family and community dynamics 

Stigma can strain relationships with family and friends who may not understand or accept a mental health condition. Communities with high levels of stigma might not provide enough support for individuals with mental health issues. 

7. It can create a fear of disclosure 

Individuals may fear disclosing their mental health issues to employers, educators or peers, leading to a lack of accommodation and support. This fear can also prevent them from receiving necessary adjustments or understanding from others. 

8. It can hinder social progress 

Societal stigma can slow progress toward mental health awareness and acceptance. It can prevent communities from adopting inclusive and supportive attitudes and policies. 

These are just a few ways that stigma prevents people from getting help they deserve. There are many others. 

If you’re facing mental health challenges, there are plenty of great sources of support online that offer great tips for overcoming stigma

Everyone will face challenges in their lifetime. Don’t avoid getting the help you need because of someone else’s opinions or biases. 

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