Stigma is a mark of disgrace associated with a particular circumstance, quality, or person that sets an individual apart from the norms of society. A significant amount of people, particularly those living with a mental illness, report that they have experienced the negative effects of stigma.
When a person is labelled by their illness or situation, they are often seen as part of a stereotyped group. Negative attitudes create prejudice which leads to negative actions, bullying and discrimination.
Stigma brings experiences and feelings of:
- misrepresentation in the media
- reluctance to seek and/or accept necessary help
Living stigma-free truly encourages all of us to stop and question our initial judgements of others and consider that they may be experiencing personal challenges that we truly know nothing about.
For instance, trying to learn when you have a developmental or mental disability can be extremely challenging. It is actually like trying to catch a football with one hand, or riding a bike with only one pedal! Sure, it is possible, but difficult, and it is up to all of us to accept that life can be more challenging for certain individuals than others.
We all deserve to be encouraged and embraced regardless of our differences.