Coming Out Proud in Support of Mental HealthThe stigma of mental illness remains a stubborn problem for those seeking recovery. Public stigma prevents people from achieving rightful life goals: for example, employers buying into the stereotypes choose not to hire people labeled “mentally ill;” landlords decide not to rent to them.

Self stigma — internalizing these stereotypes so people believe themselves unworthy or unable — leads to a “why try” effect. “Why try seek a job? Someone like me can’t handle it.”

Unfortunately, stigma does not seem to be improving despite evidence that the Western world is more educated about causes of mental illness than any time in history.

Contact is an effective approach to stigma change. “Contact” involves people with lived experience sharing their illness, recovery, and accomplishments to strategically-targeted groups including employers, landlords, police officers, health care providers, legislators, and faith-based community leaders. This means people need to disclose their experiences with mental illness and the health care system — come out, as it were — a courageous decision given the prejudice and discrimination it risks.

2 Comments to
Coming Out Proud in Support of Mental Health

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  1. Wonderful article Patrick, in my life the only stigma I have faced is the stigma of self-doubt. The only thing that has ever helped that is telling other people what I’m going through. Being bipolar is as big an obstacle as I believe it is or isn’t. Today I believe that barrier is only an opportunity.

  2. Hello Patrick Corrigan, I am the Swiss Peer Support Facilitator for your programm and can only say that it has touched the fifty service comsumers that have gone through the study course this past winter profoundly. To have people age 21 to 71, and of all (phases of)diagnoses sit in a room face to face and find themselves laughing and consoling each other as they struggle to find their authentic voices rise up and out is truely touching. We face so much stigma in Switzerland. To encourage people to take a stand is like rekindling their fire for life. I will hold the flag high as we continue to offer these seminars. I have begun to speak publicly on Stigma and on Coming Out Proud. Broader audiences are applauding.We’re still breaking through lots of concrete, shockingly, but that’s how we heal. At least, WE don’t need to crack anymore! I look forward to presenting this program as a speaker at the Swiss National Association of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy in Montreux this summer in collaboration with my host colleagues of Sanatorium Kilchberg and Pro Mente Sana, Switzerland. Sincerely, Stephanie Ventling, peer support specialist,Zurich, Switzerland

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