Stigma, Stigma, Stigma.

The Mental Health Commission of Canada initiated Opening Minds to to help summarize the Commission's activities to date, comment on lessons learned, and identify future work and challenges. Stigma is the major focus of Opening Minds, since stigma is a major barrier to people seeking help. Many describe stigma as more life-limiting and disabling than the illness itself.

In the Opening Minds Interim Report (2013), the Commission discuss stigma and the three levels of stigma, outlined below.

As each students' association works toward improving mental health outcomes, and stigma ia as major barrier, I thought I would share this with all of you. Being aware of the levels of stigma may positively influence your project implementation.

Consider speaking of stigma and addressing all three levels on campus through your initiatives. Read the summary below and if you would like access the entire report follow the link below.

Stigma is enacted at three levels: self-stigma; public stigma; and structural stigma

Self-stigma occurs when people with a mental illness accept and agree with negative cultural stereotypes. They feel ashamed, blameworthy, and try to conceal their illness from others. This may include avoiding situations that may elicit stigmatizing responses. Stigma avoidance is thought to be one of the key reasons why the majority of people who meet the criteria for a mental illness do not seek care.

Public stigma encompasses the prejudicial attitudes and discriminatory behaviours expressed toward people with a mental illness by members of the public. Public stigma is based on deeply held prejudices that are, by definition, resistant to change. Cultural attributions that fuel public stigma include the ideas that people with a mental illness can never recover; they are violent and unpredictable; they are blameworthy and could control their illness.

Structural stigma occurs at the level of institutions, policies, and laws. It creates situations in which people with a mental illness are treated inequitably and unfairly, for example when they are denied their basic human rights, or when policy agendas do not give mental health issues high priority

The full report is available at:


All the best!