16 Ways Life Would Change in a World Without Mental Illness Stigma


Mental illness stigma manifests in many different ways for the 1 in 5 people who live with a mental health condition. Some keep what they’re going through to themselves while others struggle to convince others they need help. But how would your life change in a world free of mental health stigma? This is the question we asked our readers during Mental Illness Awareness Week in honor of this year’s theme: #IAmStigmaFree.

Here’s a glimpse into what a stigma-free world might look like for those who live with mental illness: 

1. “I would be able to ask for help more without feeling ashamed or like less of a person. Without fear of what people are really thinking about me. Without fear of people turning away.” — Mary Mahorney

2. “I wouldn’t have to choose between honesty and courtesy when people ask me how I’m feeling.” — Irina Greenman 

stigmafree1 copy

3. “I could talk about my family members’ mental illness to my friends and colleagues without shame or judgment.” — Dawn M. Werlinger

4. “I wouldn’t have to be secretive about my therapy and psycholgist appointments or make up fake illnesses when I call in sick.” — Sara Cahill Camps

5. “It wouldn’t have taken over 10 years to be diagnosed with my physical illness. Almost every doctor dismissed my complaints as soon as they saw I was diagnosed with bipolar 2 with anxiety.” — Cynthia Rhodes Alberson

6. “I’d no longer be as scared to ask for help from those around me.” — Rochelle Ashcroft

stigmafree2 copy

7. “I wouldn’t cringe every time someone claims to be ‘OCD’ about something.” — Hailey Remigio

8. “I’d be more open to discussing what it feels like to be in my brain instead of trying to keep it under control.” — Lauren Celeskey Bednarz 

9. “I wouldn’t have spent years in hiding.” — Ella Dick

stigmafree4 copy

10. “I would be able to actually tell my professors and employers what’s wrong instead of lying every time.” — Calliope Krystal Pia Kilpeläinen

11. “I would be able to share my struggle with OCD and agoraphobia without being told I’m ‘crazy.’” — Erica Enos

12. “Mental health treatment might have equal insurance coverage.”  — Katie DeMore

13. “I would feel OK telling people why I was going to the counseling center at my college. I wouldn’t have to lie about the medicine I take. I wouldn’t feel like a fish out of water in my own skin every day.” — Kathleen McKenna Nelson

stigmafree3 copy

14. “People could understand I’m not the worlds biggest flake. I’m just scared.” — Amanda Schulte

15. “Disclosure to employers would be easier. I wouldn’t be viewed as difficult or unreasonable with my accommodation requests.” — Barbara Audacity Johnson

16. “Simply put; I’d be free. Free from judgement. Free to open up without that uncomfortable silence hanging in the air. It would mean freedom to be me; the real me. — Geraldine Renton

stigmafree5 copy

Want to live in a world without mental health stigma? Take the National Alliance on Mental Illness’s StigmaFree pledge.

*Some answers have been edited and shortened


Find this story helpful? Share it with someone you care about.


Related to Mental Health

John Oliver Nails the Real Problem With Discussing Mental Health and Shootings

Often in the aftermath of a mass shooting, like the tragedy at Oregon’s Umpqua Community College last Thursday, politicians and the media speculate why, sometimes focusing on the mental health of the shooter. Or, as John Oliver put it on Sunday night’s episode of “Last Week Tonight with John Oliver,” “There’s nothing like a mass shooting to suddenly spark political interest [...]

5 Ways to Show Support When a Friend’s Loved One Attempts Suicide

A friend just told you his or her loved one attempted suicide. How does one react to this information? First and foremore, be there. Be there for the person who just told you this information, and be fully present with them. Because for every person who’s struggling with mental illness, there are loved ones who [...]

Sh*t People Say to People With Mental Illness

Finally, there’s a sh*t people say to people with mental illness video, and it’s pretty hilarious — especially if you’ve been there. “For so many years I’ve heard people say things like this, but haven’t spoken up,” the video’s creator Rachel Griffin, a graduate student at New York University, told The Mighty. “When you’re having [...]
black and white photo of blonde woman

Why I'm Too Scared to Stay Silent About Suicide

A friend reached out this morning for advice. A dear friend of hers died by suicide. “What do you say when someone takes their own life?” she asked. It could have been me. My friend and I talked briefly about her friend. I had never met him; I didn’t know him. But at the same [...]