Stigma and Mental Illness:
What You Need to Know
NAMI Stigma Busters
NAMI StigmaBusters is a network of dedicated advocates across the country and around the world who seek to fight inaccurate and hurtful representations of mental illness.
Whether these images are found in TV, film, print, or other media, StigmaBusters speak out and challenge stereotypes. They seek to educate society about the reality of mental illness and the courageous struggles faced by consumers and families every day. StigmaBusters' goal is to break down the barriers of ignorance, prejudice, or unfair discrimination by promoting education, understanding, and respect.
Each month, close to 20,000 advocates receive a NAMI StigmaBusters Alert, and it is read by countless others around the world online. Send it to your own personal and professional networks. Numbers do count, so let your voice be heard.
What is Stigma?
Stigma leads to …
Use respectful language. Put the person before the illness – use phrases such as “a person with schizophrenia”. Never use terms like crazy, lunatic, psycho, retarded and correct people who do so.
Provide professional development opportunities for staff, regarding diversity, mental health issues, and fostering an inclusive work environment. Include mental illness in discussions about acceptance of diversity, just as you would discuss cultural diversity,
religious beliefs, physical disability, and sexual orientation.
Become an advocate. Create awareness by writing letters to newspapers and lawmakers. Speak out and challenge stereotypes portrayed in the media. Take it upon yourself to inform your community about the truth of mental illness.
Teach others about mental illness. Spread understanding that these are illnesses like any other.
Become a StigmaBuster:
Are you angry about outdated, outrageous, offensive portrayals or language about persons with mental illness?
Become a StigmaBuster and tell the people creating or promoting these ads, characters, editorials and other stereotypes how you feel about their hurtful, demeaning and dehumanizing creations and pronouncements.
Visit the NAMI National website for more information or call (800) 950-NAMI.
ADS Center – www.samhsa.gov/stigma
Resource Center to Address Discrimination and Stigma (Associated with Mental Illness) – provides practical assistance to indivuals, States, and public and private organziations in the design, implementation, and operation of programs and initatives to reduce discrimination and stigma.
NAMI Multicultural Action Center - www.nami.org
This Center works to focus attention on system reform to ensure access to culturally competent services and treatment for all Americans and to help and support families of color who are dealing with mental illness.
STAR Center – www.consumerstar.org
(Support Technical Assistance Resource Center) - funded by CMHS, this center provides support, technical assistance, and resources to help improve and increase the capacity of consumer operated programs to meet the needs of persons living with mental illnesses from diverse communities.
StigmaBusters – www.nami.org
A group of dedicated advocates across the country who seek to fight the inaccurate, hurtful representations of
mental illness that can be found in TV, film, print, or other media. StigmaBusters’ goal is to break down the barriers
of ignorance, prejudice, or unfair discrimination by promoting education, understanding, and respect.
Anti-Stigma: Do You Know the Facts? SAMHSA Mental Health Information Center. 2003
Challenging Stereotypes: An Action Guide. SAMHSA. 2001
Mental Health: Culture, Race, and Ethnicity. A Report of the Surgeon General. 2001