M ental illnesses are disorders of brain functioning. They are often misunderstood and ideas about mental illness are only starting to be confirmed by science and research into the brain and how it works.
Even though many people suffer from mental illnesses, you often will only know someone has a mental illness if they tell you directly. Unlike a broken arm or leg, it is often difficult to understand what that person may be experiencing and how you can help. Sometimes their mental illness will make them act in unusual ways, which may make you feel uncomfortable. When we feel uncomfortable we often treat others differently whether we do it consciously or unconsciously.
When we treat someone differently, we may be stigmatizing them based on ideas about mental illness that come from inaccurate news reports or over dramatized movies and television programs. This stigma often deters those with mental illness from accessing health care or maximizing their potential because they’re afraid of being judged.
So how can we fight stigma? By improving mental health literacy, we can challenge our misinformation and negative attitudes.
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