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Internalized Stigma of Mental Illness Affects Recovery

Stigma is something that can be seen outwardly like when a family member avoids you due to your depression or  you’re passed over for a promotion because your coworkers discovered you’re diagnosed with schizophrenia. It’s also seen in public perceptions as noted in the Surgeon’s General report where 60% of people felt like people with schizophrenia behaved violently.

But the biggest danger of mental health stigma is when it’s felt inwardly. Because no matter how unfairly people treat you ourwardly, it’s nothing compared to the effects of feeling the stigma inside.

Stigma and Mental Illness

Mental illness was once thought of as demonic possession, but then, most things were. After that period passed, mental illness was thought of as a person failing and of immoral character and disobedience of moral law.

And although we have come a long way from these beliefs, more than one-in-three people still believe that mental illnesses are completely different from physical illnesses and more than one-in-two believe that avoiding someone with a mental illness is not a form of discrimination.

Feeling Mental Illness Stigma

And not only do these beliefs creep into the mind’s of people with a mental illness due to outward behavior, but some of the people who hold those beliefs are people with a mental illness themselves! Being diagnosed doesn’t protect you from being stigmatized nor feeling stigma about your own illness.

We Have to Beat Stigma

But I can tell you, from the bottom of my extremely well-researched heart that stigma is unfair and public perceptions are wrong. People with a mental illness are just people with an illness. We do not deserve discrimination any more than anyone else does.

And if my words don’t convince you, consider this. People with greater internalized stigma have lower self-esteem, lower social functioning and worse recovery outcomes. That should be enough to motivate you to get rid of the poison that you don’t deserve. Stigma, by the way, tends to be less in people who accept a medical cause of mental illness as well as a medical treatment.

Because in the end, people can stigmatize you all they want – but you have the power not to take it on and not to let it affect your recovery.

You can find Natasha Tracy on Facebook or GooglePlus or @Natasha_Tracy on Twitter.

Author: Natasha Tracy

Natasha Tracy is a renowned speaker, award-winning advocate and author of Lost Marbles: Insights into My Life with Depression & Bipolar.

Find Natasha Tracy on her blog, Bipolar Burble, Twitter, Google+ and Facebook.

11 thoughts on “Internalized Stigma of Mental Illness Affects Recovery”

  1. hi there my wife has just been admitted to hospital a month ago with a bi polar disorder leaving me to pick up the peices of 2 years of hell and to try and rebuild a future for my 8 year old daughter truth be told i hope she never gets out she lied about me to everyone making me out to be horrible person telling me im responsable for everything that she had been doing .i had been wondering for a long time why people were looking funny at me almost started to believe that i was horrible myself my saving grace was a honest decent person who i respected told me i was the most decent person he had ever met and that he had been watching what was giong on for some time he told me he was slowly watching me fall apart i lost four stone in four month(she didnt lose any weight)worked every day looked after my daughter every evening while being abused on a daily basis. i still find it hard to believe that a person can try and destroy someone they say they love im very sorry but this is not the person i met 10 years ago my family are saying stick with her but why should my childs life be destroyed by by an unfeeling uncaring abusive self centered person they say oh poor girl what about the familys that are destroyed by their actions no doctors for us no help for us just people looking saying he must have done that to her; well i would just like to add that some of my neighbours have tried to talk to me again i told them to go away dont look at me or talk to me ever TIRED OF BEING THE VICTIM of sombody elses problem am i wrong to say ive had enough i had a member of my partners family come to help he left after 2 days 2years for me i feel suicidal depressed embarrased but i have to get up out of bed and make a life for my child work every day who helps us (me i have just to keep going while im falling part with stress ) i have realized that people with bi polar only think of them selves she has tried to destroy me even went to police said i assulted her ha ha ha i was to embarrased to tell the police it was me assulted what a wonderfull life with some one with bi polar lie after lie after lie soon to be bye bye bye

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