What is Stigma?

Stigma is a mark of disgrace that sets a person apart.  When a person is labelled by their illness, they are seen as part of a stereotyped group.  Negative attitudes create prejudice, which leads to negative actions and discrimination.

Stigma brings experiences and feelings of:

  • Shame
  • Blame
  • Hopelessness
  • Distress
  • Misrepresentation in the media
  • Reluctance to seek and/or accept necessary help

How can we challenge stigma?

  • Learn and share the facts about mental health and illness
  • Speak up in protest when friends, family, colleagues or the media display false beliefs and negative stereotypes
  • Offer the same support to people when they are physically or mentally unwell
  • Don’t label or judge people with a mental illness, treat them with respect and dignity as you would anyone else
  • Don’t discriminate
  • Talk openly of your own experience with mental illness
  • Host or attend one of NAMI Ventura County’s Stigma Reduction Programs

NAMI Ventura County Stigma Reduction Programs

In Our Own Voice:

 A powerful anti-stigma tool to change hearts, minds, and attitudes about mental illness. The program unmasks mental illness, using speaker stories to illustrate the individual realities of living with mental illness. You gain a better understanding of what it is like to live with mental illness and stay in recovery. NAMI In Our Own Voice can change attitudes, preconceived notions and stereotypes regarding mental illness. Learn more…

Ending the Silence:

 NAMI Ending the Silence is an in-school presentation about mental health designed for high school students. Students can learn about mental illness directly from family members and individuals living with mental illness themselves.  Learn more…

Parents & Teachers as Allies:

This  in-service program helps school professionals identify the early warning signs of early-onset mental illnesses in children and adolescents in schools.  It focuses on the specific, age-related symptoms of mental illnesses in youth, how best to intervene, and shared the lived experiences of consumers and families.  Learn more…

Provider Education:  

The NAMI Provider Education program helps people who work with individuals living with mental illness understand the experience of mental illness from individual and family perspectives. Through exposure to personal stories, participants may gain tools that increase their empathy and professional skills thereby improving patient care.  Learn more…