Fighting stigma in mental health

Many people live with depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, and other mental health issues.

Managing these conditions is challenging. Imagine how difficult it is if you are also being judged or defined because of them. Let’s break the pattern. Here is some information to get you started.

Mother and daughter hugging

What is a stigma?

According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, “Stigma is when someone, or even yourself, views a person in a negative way just because they have a mental health condition. Some people describe stigma as a feeling of shame or judgment from someone else.”

Why is stigma a problem?

Stigma creates feelings of isolation, blame, and secrecy. These feelings can turn into shame and fear, which make people feel like they should stay quiet about their mental health concerns.

That’s a problem. It’s hard enough to reach out for support, but feeling embarrassed about this can make it even more difficult to ask for help. In fact, one in five Americans are affected by mental health issues but less than half are getting the help they need. And everybody deserves support.

So let’s cure stigma together and help those who live with this feel safe getting support.

Ways to help


Mental illness is not someone’s identity. Be mindful when you speak about a person and feel you need to use their mental illness to do that. What a person is going through does not define them.

  • Avoid using emotions or the name of a mental illness to describe a person
  • Get to know them by learning about their hobbies, interests, etc.
  • Let go of beliefs that define a person because of a diagnosis
  • Listen without giving advice unless they have asked you for your help
  • Practice kindness and empathy when they express emotions
  • Recognize everybody for their unique qualities rather than their mental illness—after all, we are all unique

Speak out

It’s empowering to educate yourself and talk with people about mental health. It also spreads education when we share what we’ve learned. Often, a stigma begins because of a lack of understanding. So, the more we talk about it, the less “different” it becomes, and the more we can support each other.

Mental illness is not personal weakness, lack of character, or poor upbringing. It’s a part of daily life for some people who are doing their best to have a great day.

Need help, or want to offer some?

If you are struggling with a mental health concern, here are some things that may help. You can also offer these as help to someone you know.

  • Counseling services are a great resource. Contact your health plan to see what options you have. Some employers offer Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs) which sometimes offer free counseling.
  • Check with your health plan to see if they have online counseling. If you’re our member, we offer behavioral healthcare through our VirtualCare app. With VirtualCare, you don’t even need to leave your home to get care.
  • If you need immediate help, call 800.662.HELP (4357). This number offers free confidential treatment referrals.
  • It also has information about mental health and drug use disorders, prevention, and recovery. You can call 24 hours a day.
  • If you’re struggling with mental illness or are a caregiver for someone with mental illness, join a support group. You can find them on Facebook, through Google or on meet-up websites.

Interested in health and wellness information? Visit the Capital Journal for more articles.

Interested in drug information? Visit our prescription education section.

For more information and resources, visit Stamp Out Stigma.

The information provided is meant for a general audience. Capital Blue Cross and its affiliated companies believe this health education resource provides useful information but does not assume any liability associated with its use.