Welcome to the blog for Free Your Mind mental health anti-stigma campaign

This is the blog for the Free Your Mind campaign which aims to battle stigma towards mental illness through the use of music, art, film, and culture.
The blog consists of informative and, hopefully, entertaining articles/posts.
Enjoy! :-)

Wednesday, 29 September 2010

Stigma Facing Those Diagnosed with Mental Illness

People diagnosed with mental health disorders are stigmatised and discriminated against in pretty much any area of life, even in the places where you would least expect it. For instance; my inspiration for the Free Your Mind campaign came from the stigma and discrimination I faced, because of my mental illness, from the nurses during a stay on a psychiatric ward. 

A survey carried out as part of the Time to Change campaign, which also addresses discrimination towards mental illness, the survey found that people diagnosed with a mental health problem are more likely to be turned down for a second date if they disclose of their mental illness, than those who reveal they have spent time in prison.

Many of us with mental health problems do find it hard to date. Personally, most of the dates I have been on have bombed if I reveal I am mentally ill. People become afraid and can also quite often assume my mental illness means I'm stupid, or even dangerous, but I'm not! Sometimes they do ask for a second dates but as time progresses, arguments happen, and they use your mental health diagnosis against you. (I normally break it off at that point.)

Another survey by Time to Change found that 92% of people in Britain felt their job prospects would diminish if they were to disclose of a mental illness. The Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) at present does, to a degree, protect individuals who make the very brave decision to reveal to their employers they have a mental health diagnosis, but "one must prepare for a hard struggle to make use of that protection" says solicitor Kiran Daurka.

Unfortunately, the tabloids often report on mental illness in a negative, prejudice and ignorant way. Take the treatment of Britney Spears' "breakdown" and eventual sectioning. Also look at the more recent treatment of X Factor contestant Shirlena Johnson and her alleged mental health problems; however, does having a history of mental illness, or even a mental health diagnosis, mean that somebody is incapable of taking part in The X Factor, or at handling fame? No is doesn't.

When somebody is diagnosed with mental health problems and they have children, the people around them start to question whether that person is fit to be a parent, and often they can perceive behaviours in the person with the mental illness that are not actually there. Even those who understand a bit about mental health disorders can still hold prejudices, particularly when a friend or loved one with a diagnosis has others in their care.

Having a mental illness does not make someone incapable of caring for children, performing well at work, and of being of being smart and articulate. People with a mental health diagnosis are discriminated against far too often!

Read more about discrimination towards mental illness here.


  1. Hi Nicola,
    I am following you, because my daughter (34) has just been diagnosed (10/7) as bipolar. Your comments on how people perceive mental illnes and parenting is only one of many that I am now concerned about. I KNOW MY DAUGHTER IS A GREAT MOTHER, but....what about the rest of the family? Especially the ones on HIS side(in-laws), who aren't very fond of her! I won't ramble on and on, but YOU HAVE MY ATTENTION AND I WILL BE READING!

    Good luck. Wanda(Emptyhead51)

    I also have a blog:

    Nothing special, just a little motivation to help keep me on track with a walking regimen I use for pain management.

  2. Hey,
    Thank you for following Free Your Mind.

    People, in general, find it hard to, and often refuse to, accept something that they cannot understand. So those with a mental health diagnosis are alienated for this reason. And this is common in families, even with blood relatives. Some people can go into denial that mental illness even exists because it may not be immediately obvious.

    Those with a psychiatric disorder can end up feeling (or actually being) punished for their diagnosis. Someone with a mental illness may behave inappropriately and those around them think they are acting strangely on purpose.

    Free Your Mind wants to make people aware of psychiatric illnesses. We don't believe they are wholly a bad thing, admittedly we whom have a diagnosis do suffer, but there are positives. I, personally, believe everyone has a mental illness to a greater or lesser extent. Our aim is not to magically cure mental illness, but to open people's minds. We want to make people aware of mental health disorders.

    As a side-note: rambling is perfectly fine in my opinion.

    And I will be definitely taking a look at your blog.
    Take care.
    Nicola from FYM