According to George Carvalho, “stigma is the shame that individuals in society place upon others suffering with mental health issues to distance themselves clearly and definitively from them” ( http://www.namiscc.org/newsletters/April02/ClientStigma.htm ). Although I don’t necessarily agree with everything he states in his article, it’s a short and interesting read.
Stigma in mental health has decreased somewhat over the past few years, in part due to a slight adjustment by the news media, television, and movies. More often, however, I think it has been the combined effort of mental health providers, medical providers, social workers, and some government officials that have worked to lessen stigma. In 2004, Wisconsin’s Lt. Governor Barbara Lawton joined the fight against mental health stigma in a big way ( http://www.wimentalhealth.org/userimages/LawtonHonorary.pdf ). Thank you, Lt. Governor Lawton!
Actually the best way to defeat stigma is word-of-mouth, person-to-person, by people that are educated about mental health. Mental health concerns can be debilitating and frustrating. Continuing the stereotypes about mental health, and using derogatory terms like “crazy”, “psycho”, and “wacko”, make life more difficult for people that many times are trying to get better. Jokes and laughing about mental health stereotypes on television shows and movies don’t help either.
As I said before, the best way to defeat stigma is person-to-person. Remember that everyone is a person, so try to say “He or She is a person with Bipolar”, instead of “He or She is Bipolar”. Everyone has normal in them, and everyone has something that could be considered a mental illness trait. But we’re all human.