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

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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 

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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


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