What is Stigma? Stigma is a sign or sense of disgrace that sets someone apart from others. When people living with a mental health condition are defined or labeled by their condition, they may become part of a stereotyped group that experiences shame, blame and secrecy. Social stigma may include prejudice, exclusion and discrimination toward individuals with mental health issues. NAMI is committed to replacing stigma with hope and encourages everyone to take the stigmafree pledge.
The Stigmafree Pledge:
Step 1. Learn about Mental Health Issues: Everyone knows a little about mental health issues, but knowing the facts about mental health conditions can help you educate others and reject stigmatizing stereotypes. Mental health issues are not the result of personal weakness, lack of character or poor upbringing. Understanding mental health isn’t only about being able to identify symptoms and having a name for these conditions but dispelling many false ideas about mental health conditions as well.
Step 2. See the Person, Not the Condition: 1 in 5 Americans lives with a mental health condition, and they all have their own story, path and journey that says more about them than their diagnoses. Whether you live with mental health condition or are a friend, family member, caregiver or medical professional, getting to know a person and treating them with kindness and empathy means far more than just knowing what they are going through.
Step 3. Take Action on Mental Health Issues: Our mental health care systems have been in crisis for far too long and often keep treatment and recovery out of the hands of many who need it. We can take action now as we push for better legislation and policies to improve lives for everyone. By lending your support you can show that this cause is important to you and desperately needed for millions of Americans.