Explore Your Stigmas


We all have stigma toward mental disorders.  Whether it’s you that has a disorder, a family member, a friend or a coworker. Even therapists have stigma toward disorders. Exploring your own stigma can help you be more aware of it, which might help prevent you from accidentally stigmatizing and hurting someone you love.  There are many ways to explore your own stigma toward mental disorders.  This post documents some of them. We’ll keep adding to this list, so feel free to send us your ideas on ways you explore your own stigma.


  • Take an implicit association test to assess your subconscious stigma.  Psychological research uses implicit association tests to get at thoughts that happen too quickly for us to be consciously aware of. Project Implicit at Harvard has a bunch. Here’s one to tell whether you implicitly think people with mental illness are dangerous: Implicit.harvard.edu


  • Meet more people who have mental disorders. Meeting someone who is different than you face-to-face is one of the best ways to reduce stigma. Ask questions in a nonjudgmental way. Extra points for working on a project or playing a game together! The Be Heard Campaign is a great way to get started.


  • Practice recognizing other people’s behaviors of stigma such as segregating, avoiding, ignoring, shaming, blaming, exoticizing, and coercing.


  • Reflect on your behavior toward a person with a mental disorder. Think about whether any of the behaviors above were present.


  • Practice recognizing common beliefs about mental illness such as they’re incapable, incompetent, dangerous or beliefs about how they should be treated such as they need to be cared for, protected, controlled.


  • Evaluate the media you watch. TV shows and movies are full of stereotypes and prejudices toward people with mental disorders. It becomes easy to recognize once you’ve noticed it.


* Do you know any other ways to reduce notice or stigma? Let us know by emailing writers@thero.org. *