Skip to content

Mental Health Center

Font Size
A
A
A

Coping With the Stigma of Mental Illness

An estimated 25% of American adults and nearly 10% of children suffer from a mental illness Nonetheless, there is often a stigma attached to mental illness, and often inaccurate portrayals of mental illness in the media.

People with mental illness and their families can take certain steps to help cope with the stigma:

Recommended Related to Mental Health

EMDR: Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing

Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) is a fairly new, nontraditional type of psychotherapy. It's growing in popularity, particularly for treating post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). PTSD often occurs after experiences such as military combat, physical assault, rape, or car accidents. Although research continues, EMDR remains controversial among some health care professionals. At first glance, EMDR appears to approach psychological issues in an unusual way. It does not rely...

Read the EMDR: Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing article > >

  • Remembering that you and your loved ones have choices: You can decide whom to tell about the mental illness -- just as you can with any other personal or private information -- and what to tell them.
  • Remembering that you are not alone: Many other people cope with similar situations. People commonly struggle with depression, anxiety, substance abuse, and other mental illnesses.
  • Keeping hope and remembering that treatment works: Safe and effective medications and psychotherapeutic treatments are available, and newer treatments are being developed. As a result, many individuals with mental illness enjoy productive lives.
  • Praising your loved one for seeking help: Mental health treatment can be difficult, as people often need to be patient in trying new medications, coping with side effects, and learning new behaviors. Helping your loved one to feel good about him or herself is important.
  • Remaining active and surrounding yourself with supportive people: Social isolation can be a negative side effect of the stigma linked to mental illness. Isolation and ceasing to participate in activities you or your loved one enjoys put you at high risk for depression and burnout. Take a risk and try new activities in your community. You may want to investigate the local chapter of NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) or a volunteer organization.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Joseph Goldberg, MD on February 08, 2014

Today on WebMD

contemplation
Differences between feeling depressed or feeling blue.
lunar eclipse
Signs of mania and depression.
 
man screaming
Causes, symptoms, and therapies.
woman looking into fridge
When food controls you.
 
Woman standing in grass field barefoot, wind blowi
Article
senior man eating a cake
Article
 
Phobias
Slideshow
woman reading medicine warnings
Article
 
depressed young woman
Article
man with arms on table
Article
 
veteran
Article
man cringing and covering ears
Article
 

WebMD Special Sections