​At a glance

Stigma affects how other people and the community see people with mental illness and in turn how people with mental illness feel about themselves.

Negative opinions, judgments or stereotypes about a person with mental illness create a stigma. It can lead to people with mental illness being discriminated against and bullied, feeling isolated and excluded, experiencing low self-esteem, and even having suicidal thoughts.

People with mental illness may feel rejected by the people they know, their family and friends, employers or the community. It can make someone try to hide their illness, or not seek the help they need. Stigma can affect someone’s health and financial wellbeing. 

Stigma can generate fear, misunderstanding and can prevent people from offering time, friendship or support to someone who is experiencing mental illness. 

People who have a mental health concern begin to internalise and believe the myths and stereotypes about mental health.  They may see themselves as inferior, incapable and unworthy of belonging.

- A person with lived experience of a mental health condition

Stigma can lead to discrimination. “Discrimination happens when a person, or a group of people, is treated less favourably than another person or group because of their background or certain personal characteristics. “(Australian Human Rights Commission). There are laws in Australia that protect people from being discriminated against because they have a mental health condition.


What are the problems that arise from stigmatising mental illness?
This fact sheet is about stigma and ignorance, fear, discrimination and professional indifference. It outlines several things every individual can do to challenge the stigma about mental illness.
Type: Fact sheet
Estimated reading time: 10 minutes
Produced by: WayAhead Mental Health Association NSW

A life without stigma
This video shows four Australians talking about how they have been affected by prejudice against mental illness.
Type: Video
Viewing time: 3.22 minutes
Closed captions: Available
Produced by: SANE Australia

Real life impact of stigma in the media

This video is about SANE Australia’s Peer Ambassador Cameron who talks about his own experience of stigma in the media.
Type: Video
Viewing time: 1:30 minutes
Closed captions: Available
Produced by: SANE Australia

Current as at: Monday 24 February 2020
Contact page owner: Mental Health