Mental illnesses can take many forms, just as physical illnesses do. Mental illnesses are still feared and misunderstood by many people, but the fear will disappear as people learn more about them.

What is stigma?

Stigma is not just a matter of using the wrong word or action. Stigma is about disrespect. It is the use of negative labels to identify a person living with a mental illness or developmental disability. It is a barrier. Fear of stigma and the resulting stereotypes, prejudice and discrimination discourage individuals and their families from getting the help they need. An estimated 18.3% percent of the U.S. population experience a mental disorder in any given year, but over half of these individuals do not seek treatment (2016 National Survey on Drug Use and Health by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration).

The educational information on this fact sheet encourages the use of positive images to refer to people with mental illness and underscores the reality that recovery is possible and mental illness can be successfully treated.