TELL Japan

Fight Stigma

Stigma – The Hidden Killer in Our Society

What is stigma?

Join TELL in fighting back against the cost of stigma. Mental illness is one of the biggest health problems facing our societies. Roughly one in four people will experience a mental health problem during their lifetime, yet mental illness still remains greatly misunderstood and feared. It rarely receives the resources it requires or the respect it deserves.

Shatter stigma website logo

Only a quarter of those who experience a mental illness reach out for support. Most fear that others will judge them negatively, and that the shame they will bring upon themselves and their family is too great. Many mental illnesses first appear when a person is young and may look different in children. Mental illnesses and stigma impacts the way young people learn and build skills. This can lead to challenges in the future, and sadly many are not receiving the help they need. People living with mental illness often say the stigma and discrimination associated with their illness can be worse than the mental illness itself.

Stigma and discrimination against those living with mental illness is widespread and reaches into schools and institutions of learning, employment, housing, health care and media. It causes shame, prejudice and hopelessness, leaves many trying to manage the problem on their own, either suffering in silence, or masking the pain with drugs or alcohol.

Mental illness is treatable, and recovery is possible when education, family, peer and community supports are available and used.

What can you do to make a difference?

You can help TELL in the battle against mental health discrimination and stigma.


If you notice any medium, radio, book, website, television coverage, etc that is promoting unhelpful or inaccurate information that is not true, challenge their myths and stereotypes. Let them know how their negative words and incorrect descriptions affect people with substance use and mental health problems, and keep alive the false ideas. However, if you notice information that is promoting informative, balanced, and supportive information, please let us know and make a noise.

Know the facts

Educate yourself about mental health problems—what can bring them on, who is more likely to develop problems and how to prevent or reduce the severity of problems.

Choose your words carefully

The way we speak can affect the way other people think and speak. Use accurate and sensitive words when talking about people with mental health and substance use problems. For example, speak about “a person with schizophrenia” rather than “a schizophrenic.”

Support people

Treat people who have substance use and mental health problems with dignity and respect. Think about how you’d like others to act toward you if you were in the same situation. If you have family members, friends or co-workers with substance use or mental health problems, support their choices and encourage their efforts to get well.

Focus on the positive

People with mental health and substance use problems make valuable contributions to society. Their health problems are just one part of who they are. If you hear positive stories of people in our community, please share them with us.

Together we can make a difference and change lives for the better.

Take the pledge

– I realize that mental illness is treatable and manageable.
– I understand that everyone is a valued person and deserves to be treated with respect.
– I will refrain from blame, shame, secrecy, social exclusion, stereotypes or discrimination.
– I will change the language I use when I talk about mental health and I will educate those who use stigmatizing language. I know that words matter.
– I will educate myself about the symptoms of mental illness and any side effects that may occur from treatment plans.
– I will use appropriate resources to work towards the stability of a loved one or myself.
– If I am feeling suicidal, I will reach out for help. If I know someone is experiencing suicidal thoughts, I will take it seriously and make every effort to ensure they get help.
– I will reduce stigma in myself and in others by being open about living with mental illness, naming it out loud and raising people’s awareness.
– I will help change the way people view mental health. I will make a difference.
Further reading: The Economist’s article on fighting stigma, April 25th, 2015

By creating awareness you help us break down barriers.

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