Stigma History


The history of misunderstanding of mental health as well as the wide range of treatments have led to the stigma. Together with the first mental hospitals it’s no surprise that we fear and misunderstand mental disorders. Much has been done to fight the ill-treatment of patients.


People with mental disorders are, frequently, described unrealistically or inaccurately in the media. Movies, books and television often present people with mental disorders as unstable or dangerous. News stories sometimes highlight mental disorders to create a feeling in a news report, even if the disorder is not relevant to the story. Advertisers use words such as “crazy” to convey that their prices are unrealistically low and to suggest that the consumer can take advantage of them.

You can help change the way mental illness is talked about in the media by speaking up.

Use the STOP standards to recognize actions and attitudes that encourage the stigma of mental illness. It’s easy! Ask yourself if everything you hear:

S tereotypes individuals with mental illness (that is, assumes they’re all equally rather than individuals)?
T rivializes or belittles individuals with mental illness and / or the illness itself?
O ffends individuals with mental illness by insulting them?
P atronizes individuals with mental illness by treating them like they weren’t as good as other individuals?

Talk, if you see something in the media that does not pass the STOP criteria! Phone or write to the author or publisher of this newspaper, magazine or publication; the film, TV or radio producer; or the advertiser who used words that add to the misunderstanding of mental illness. Help them understand how their words affect people with mental illness.