“End the stigma of mental illness” is a phrase we hear again and again. But what does that mean, exactly, and how does this “stigma” affect those who experience it? The word "stigma" technically means "a mark of shame," and in the context of mental illness advocacy, we mean the unfair mark of shame others assign to us when it’s revealed we live with different mental health conditions. It can also be shame we assign to ourselves when we feel like there’s something wrong with how our brains work, and decide to keep our thoughts hidden from others.
But this idea of “ending the stigma” only scratches the surface of the real shame, microaggressions, and acts of discrimination people who live with mental illnesses sometimes face. To take the vagueness out of the conversation around mental health, we wanted to gather some examples of modern-day mental-illness shaming to see what kind of work still needs to be done.