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The 7 Different Types of Mental Health Stigma & Their Impact

May is Mental Health Awareness Month. 1 in 5 Americans have been affected by mental health challenges. The stigma against people with mental health related problems have prevented so many people from reaching out for support. While I am very optimistic about conversations surrounding mental health occurring at a societal level, there is still much work that needs to be done to break the stigma. In this blog, I discuss the 7 different types of mental health stigma and their impact.

Public Stigma

This type of stigma occurs when negative stereotypes and prejudices are endorsed that further lead to discriminatory practices against people that experience mental health related challenges.

Perceived Stigma

The stigma that people carry negative beliefs about those that experience mental health challenges.


This occurs when a person that experiences mental health challenges or substance misuse internalizes the public's stigma.


When a person avoids seeking support for mental health challenges to avoid being labeled. This is perhaps the most harmful form of stigma.

Stigma by Association

This occurs when the stigma's affect are then extended to those that are linked to a person that experiences mental health challenges. This is also known as "associative stigma" or "courtesy stigma."

Structural Stigma

This occurs when societal structures or institutions provide decreased opportunities for people with mental health challenges.

Health Practitioner Stigma

This occurs anytime that a healthcare provider allows stereotypes and prejudices about mental health to negatively affect an individual's treatment.

More than half of people that experience mental health challenges don't seek out support due to their concerns about being treated differently, or their livelihood or employment being impacted. Stigma and discrimination have led to worsening of mental health symptoms. Research has highlighted that effects of mental health stigma include reduced hope, increased psychiatric symptoms, low self-esteem, difficulties in interpersonal relationships, increased difficulties at work, and reduced likelihood of staying in treatment. In a later blog post, I will be discussing different ways that we can end the stigma against mental health.

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