An Expert Explains…Stigma and Discrimination in Mental Health

Today we’re going to be talking about
stigma and discrimination and why it’s so important to consider in mental
health. We need to think about stigma and discrimination because it affects people
in a very real way. In the UK a man dies every two hours by suicide, which is a
shocking statistic. Stigma is basically holding a negative belief about a
particular characteristic, so in terms of mental health, there’s a lot of negative
stereotypes that can impact stigma and discrimination. If you hear or read these
negative stereotypes you can start to believe that they’re true and then this
can lead to you developing your own stigmatised beliefs. Discrimination is
basically any action that comes from a stigmatised belief. If a person discloses
at a job interview that they have a mental health issue and their
interviewer has a stigmatised belief that all people with mental health
issues are going to be unreliable and uses that belief not to hire them, then
that’s when it becomes discrimination. A lot of people don’t speak up when
they’re struggling. They don’t speak to their friends, they don’t speak to their
family, they don’t go to the GP, they don’t call a helpline; and a lot of that
is because they worry that they’re going to be labelled as having a mental health
issue and seen as weak for needing support. If we address stigma and
discrimination better and generally help people understand mental health
more effectively, then people will feel more confident in seeking help and
support, and that could save lives. If you or anyone you know are worried about
their mental health please speak up and contact someone for support.

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