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Dealing with mental illness stigma

3-minute read

Having good support networks can help reduce mental illness stigma.

What is mental illness stigma?

People with a mental illness may be treated differently to other people.

If you have or have had a mental illness, you may want some help dealing with mental illness stigma that can go with it.

Here are some tips:

1. Don't believe that you are your illness

Someone with a broken ankle is not a brokenanklitic – they are more than their illness. So are you.

If you have bipolar disorder, say 'I have bipolar disorder' rather than 'I’m bipolar'. If you convince yourself first that you're a person, not a walking illness, others will find it easier to see you that way too.

2. Don't take it personally

Most discrimination comes from people who don't understand or have much experience of mental illness. Try to consider it as their problem, not yours.

3. Use facts

Mental illness is common. It is not a sign of weakness. Learn some useful facts and figures, and tell people about it.

4. Tell your story (if you want)

The more mental illness remains hidden, the more people think it must be something to be ashamed of. But it’s your choice entirely as to how much you reveal to anybody of your life.

5. Choose who you deal with

That's easier in some places than others. For example, it's hard to do that at work, but much easier with friends. Some people get it once you talk to them, others never will.

Where to get support

If you suffer from stigma or know someone who does, help is available from:

  • mental health professionals, such as psychologists, counsellors or psychiatrists
  • local community health centres
  • local community mental health centres.

You can also learn more here about how to deal with any stigma you face. If you want to report stigma, visit the SANE Australia website and fill out an online report form or call 1800 18 SANE (7263).

For immediate counselling assistance, contact Lifeline on 13 11 14.

 

Last reviewed: September 2017

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