Mental Health Awareness: Understanding the Stigma

We all have mental health, just as we all have physical health. Mental health disorders are very common and can affect anyone — according to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), one in five adults in the U.S. experience mental illness each year. These conditions affect everyday life and how you relate to yourself, others around you, and society at large. If a physical injury impairs someone’s ability to walk, for example, they might require a wheelchair or other device to help them get around easily. Mental illness may require some kind of support system as well — whether that means therapy, medications, or something else entirely. Because of the pervasive stigma associated with mental illness and treatment options like medication and therapy, though, people don’t often feel comfortable talking about their struggles openly or advocating for themselves when something isn’t working right away

  • Mental health disorders are a common part of life and affect one in five Americans.
  • Mental health disorders are treatable and manageable.
  • Mental health disorders should not be compared or seen as a sign of weakness, but instead as an opportunity to seek out treatment and support.

Stigmas about mental health are pervasive throughout the world, according to the World Health Organization (WHO)

The World Health Organization (WHO) is a specialized agency of the United Nations that works to improve health around the world. The WHO has a mental health action plan with five goals:

  • To reduce the global burden of mental, neurological, and substance use disorders
  • To strengthen collaboration between all sectors (health, education, employment, etc.) in order to work towards an integrated approach to mental health promotion and service delivery
  • To increase awareness about mental illness and its treatments among patients and their families as well as communities at large through better advocacy efforts aimed at eliminating the stigma associated with mental health disorders
  • To ensure that people with disabilities have access to treatment options they choose or need including those relating to psychosocial support services such as rehabilitation centers where they may live independently within their communities

Mental illness is not always the same for every person. For example, the disorder that affects one person may only affect them during certain times of their life or in certain situations. Others may have a mental health problem that affects them all of the time, no matter where they are or who they’re with.

It’s important to keep in mind that having a mental health disorder doesn’t make you any less valuable as a person and it certainly doesn’t make you weak or broken.

  • Mental health issues affect people of all ages and backgrounds. In fact, mental illness is the leading cause of disability for young people, and one in five children has a diagnosable mental disorder. Additionally, teens are at a higher risk than other age groups to experience major depression and anxiety disorders during adolescence.
  • Your loved ones may not be able to recognize your symptoms unless they know what they look like. It’s important then that you are aware of the warning signs of mental illness so you can get help as soon as possible.

There is hope. People with mental illness can and do recover. Recovery is a process that takes time, and it’s different for everyone. But it’s not a straight line or a single event—it’s more like rolling hills and valleys, ups and downs along the way as you make progress toward your goals.

Stigma is widespread and harmful, but it’s possible to overcome it with the right support.

The stigma surrounding mental health is not only widespread, it’s harmful. It can prevent people from seeking the help they need, and create a fear of being judged or punished for having a mental illness.

Stigmatization can also make it harder to work through your own issues when you don’t feel comfortable discussing them with others. However, there are ways to overcome this stigma and get the support you need.

Mental health issues are real and treatable; they’re an important part of life that affect everyone at some point in their lives. We all deserve access to quality services without judgment or discrimination based on our ability status or cultural background.”


In order to combat the stigma surrounding mental illness, it’s important for everyone to make an effort to understand what mental health disorders are, and how they affect people. In this way, we can all help reduce the impact of stigmas and ensure that people with mental health issues receive the care and support they deserve.