Stigma is the discrimination or marginalization against a group of people. It can be driven by misinformation or myths, fear, and stereotypes. People living with mental illness or experiencing a mental health disorder are just one group of people who experience stigma. It is also experienced by people with differing physical or cognitive abilities, gender identities, even people who have tested positive for COVID-19.
Stigma occurs in two ways, perceived- or self-stigma and social stigma. Perceived Stigma or Self-Stigma happens when the person suffering from a mental health disorder internalizes their biases, perceptions, and sometimes misinformation about mental illness. Perceived stigma can create feelings of shame, and can significantly affect how they feel about themselves and whether or not they seek treatment. This can lead to poorer treatment outcomes.
Social Stigma is characterized by prejudicial attitudes and discriminating behavior directed towards individuals with mental health disorders as a result of the psychiatric label they have been given.