"While there is a strong recognition that prejudice based on race, ethnicity and gender is a social problem that we need to understand and address, such recognition has not been given to prejudice - or its consequences - based on mental illness."
- Rodolfo Mendoza-Denton, UC Berkeley psychology professor
"Those who suffer from mental illnesses continue to face housing and job discrimination, as well as hurdles when voting, obtaining a driver's license and maintaining child custody. As a result, they lose out on major life opportunities."- Stephen Hinshaw, professor and chair of the Department of Psychology at UC Berkeley
Millions of people and their families are affected by mental illness; it causes untold pain and severely impairs their ability to function in the world. In recent years, we have begun to understand and develop a range of effective treatments for mental illness. Even with this shift from moralistic views to those emphasizing the biological and genetic origins of mental illness, punitive treatment and outright rejection remain strong. Public attitudes toward mental illness are still more negative than they were half a century ago, and the majority of those afflicted either do not receive or cannot afford adequate care. As a result of all of these troubling facts, applying the term "stigma" to mental illness is particularly appropriate because stigma conveys the mark of shame borne by those in any highly devalued group.
Mental illness tops the list of stigmatized conditions in current society, generating the kinds of stereotypes, fear, and rejection that are reminiscent of longstanding attitudes toward leprosy. Mental disorders threaten stability and order, and media coverage exacerbates this situation by equating mental illness with violence. As a result, stigma is rampant, spurring family silence, discriminatory laws, and social isolation. The pain of mental illness is searing enough, but adding the layer of stigma affects personal well being, economic productivity, and public health, fueling a vicious cycle of lowered expectations, deep shame, and hopelessness.Book desciption, The Mark of Shame: Stigma of Mental Illness and an Agenda for Change by Stephen Hinshaw
Worst of all, the stigmatization and rejection of people with mental illness prevents most from seeking treatment. Most Americans with mental health disorders do not receive adequate treatment. Instead of getting help, people with mental illnesses conceal their problems as a means of coping.