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Why stigma hurts

We know that stigma around mental health problems can prevent people from seeking help for their symptoms; but, how else do our persistent myths about diseases of the brain harm others?

According to the Mental Health Foundation, nearly 90% of people who experience problems with their mental health say stigma has a negative impact on them.

For many, the stigma is not just in social experiences with people they don’t know — store clerks, potential employers, or strangers on the street — but with those they know well, their families, friends and co-workers.

That means we can all make a positive difference by reexamining our beliefs and language.

Experts say that the best ways to overcome our own judgements is to get to know people with mental health challenges, to form relationships, and build trust and to normalize conversations about the subject.

Here’s the difference it can make.

The National Alliance on Mental Illness looked at one particular challenge - schizophrenia, a disease which has one of the highest rates of unemployment at 70-90%.

Their conclusion? That, when it comes to finding work, individuals with schizophrenia are more limited by others’ assumptions and stereotypes about them than they are by their own symptoms.

That’s something we can all change together.

To learn more, including ways you can help, check out this list from NAMI on actions to improve these statistics.

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