Stigma and Discrimination

Stigma and discrimination surrounding mental health remain pervasive, hindering support, understanding, and inclusion. This web page is dedicated to shedding light on these issues, challenging misconceptions, and fostering a more inclusive and supportive environment for mental health.

Understanding the significant effect of stigma and discrimination on mental health is crucial. We urge everyone to explore valuable resources from reputable sources like The Lancet and the World Health Organization (WHO) on these vital topics.  The Lancet’s 2022 report on eradicating stigma and discrimination in mental health is particularly noteworthy. It revealed that “many individuals consider stigma as more distressing than the condition itself.” These reports shed light on how negative stereotypes and discrimination profoundly impact mental well-being in real life.

Understanding stigma and discrimination in mental health

Stigma in mental health refers to negative attitudes, beliefs, and stereotypes that lead to the marginalisation of individuals with mental health problems. Discrimination encompasses the unfair treatment and exclusion based on these prejudices, impacting one’s access to opportunities and support.

The toll of stigma on mental health

The weight of stigma and discrimination can exacerbate mental health challenges. It creates barriers to seeking help, amplifies feelings of shame and isolation, and limits opportunities for individuals to fully engage in society. It perpetuates cycles of silence and prevents open conversations about mental well-being.

Challenging myths and misconceptions

It’s time to challenge common myths and misconceptions surrounding mental health. Contrary to widespread beliefs, mental health conditions are not a sign of weakness or something to be ashamed of. They are legitimate issues that can affect anyone, regardless of background, age, or status.

Promoting empathy and understanding

Empathy and understanding are crucial in dismantling stigma. By fostering open, non-judgmental conversations and educating ourselves and others, we create spaces where individuals feel safe and supported in sharing their experiences without fear of judgment.

Creating supportive communities

Building supportive communities involves creating environments where individuals feel accepted and valued, and are able to meaningfully contribute, irrespective of their mental health status. It’s about promoting inclusivity, offering support, and encouraging people to seek help without fear of stigma or discrimination.

Advocating for change

Advocacy in tackling stigma and discrimination goes beyond awareness raising of mental health problems and attitude change. Advocacy is key to driving systemic change. It involves raising awareness on the socio-economic and environmental determinants of mental health issues, and advocating for policies that promote social equity and inclusion, protect the rights and improve overall quality of life of individuals with mental health problems, and create communities that are free from discrimination.

‘Mental Health: The Power of Language’ – A glossary of terms and words

Mental Health Europe has released a glossary of terms and words used in the area of mental health to help pave the way to de-stigmatisation. When we want to see the right changes both in policy and in our day-to-day lives, we need to use the right terms and words.

This publication builds on Mental Health Europe’s Words Matter and Mental Health Europe Explained work. It was developed in co-creation people with lived experience, supporters, care professionals, service providers, and human rights experts. ‘Mental Health Europe’s selected words’ were proposed by the working group after in-depth reflections on the different options. As language evolves along with our societies, this is to be considered a living document, which Mental Health Europe will review whenever the need arises.

Read our latest Glossary to discover the meanings and history behind some of the most common words used when discussing mental health, what language might be best suited for certain situations, and what we have decided to use and why.

Join us in challenging stigma and discrimination

Our platform aims to spark conversations, challenge stigma, and foster a more empathetic and inclusive society for mental health. We invite you to join this movement by sharing your stories, advocating for change, and spreading awareness to challenge misconceptions.

Let’s break the silence. Together, let’s create a future where every individual feels supported, understood, and empowered in their mental health journey.

Join the European Mental Health Week.

Join the conversation, explore our resources, and be part of the movement to challenge stigma and discrimination in mental health.

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