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Stigma and Mental Illness: A Framework for Action

August 3, 2008

Mental illness can affect anybody, regardless of age, gender, culture, ethnicity, or social class. But no matter who they are, people who have been diagnosed with a mental illness are all likely to experience stigma. Public attitudes and beliefs, often based on fear and misunderstanding, stereotype individuals with mental illness, exposing them to prejudice and discrimination. Stigma infects every issue surrounding mental illness, often with worse consequences than the illness itself. In 2001, the World Health Organization declared stigma to be the “single most important barrier to overcome in the community.”

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