People with mental illness not only have to battle with recovering from their own illness, but have to cope with the immense stigma surrounding mental illness.
- Do you know that roughly 20% of any population will experience a mental illness some time in their lives?
- Do you know that stigma is not just the use of the wrong word or action?
- Do you know that stigma is about disrespect, and that stigma is about the use of negative labels to identify a person living with mental illness?
- Do you know that stigma is a barrier and discourages individuals and their families from getting the help that they need?
- Do you know that many people would rather tell employers that they have committed a petty crime and were in jail, than admit to being in a psychiatric hospital?
- Do you know that stigma often results in fear, mistrust and violence against people living with mental illness?
- Do you know that stigma often results in families and friends turning their backs on people with mental illness?
- Do you know that stigma keeps people from getting needed mental health services?
You can reduce stigma this way
Use respectful language such as:
- person who has schizophrenia
- person with a psychiatric disability
- person with bipolar disorder
Emphasise abilities, not limitations.
Tell someone if they express attitudes that reveal prejudice.
- Don’t portray successful persons with disabilities as super-human.
- Don’t use general labels such as retarded, or the mentally ill.
- Don’t use terms like crazy, lunatic, manic depressive, slow functioning or normal.
For more information regarding mental health and illness please contact the Mental Health Information Centre of South Africa on (021) 938 9229.