Stigma and discrimination

Topic Selected: Depression

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Stigma is experienced by people affected by depression when negative judgements are made about them based on the condition, usually as a result of stereotypes, misconceptions or fear. Stigma can take many forms. It may be someone making an unpleasant remark or ignoring you; or assumptions being made about the kind of person you are or your abilities. Discrimination is the active part of stigma, when someone is not only judged because of the condition they experience but is actually treated differently.

It may seem that understanding and awareness of mental health problems is improving but many studies have shown that stigma is still widespread. Consider the following statistics:

  • The most common mental illnesses are anxiety and depression (22% of the population) but when asked to describe mental illness 63% of people said it was ‘someone with schizophrenia’ (which affects just 1% of the population). This figure has increased from 56% ten years ago (

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