Social Stigma

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Stigma occurs when society labels someone as less desirable. Stigma involves three elements; lack of knowledge, negative attitudes and people behaving in ways that disadvantage the stigmatized person. Stigma related to mental health problems is particularly severe and widespread among the world. This article discusses mental health stigma in our society and how the community deals it in Pakistan and other countries. 

People with mental health problems say that the social stigma attached to their mental health and the discrimination they experience can make their difficulties worse and make it harder to recover. 

What is mental health stigma?

Mental health stigma can be divided into two distinct types: social stigma is characterized by prejudicial attitudes and discriminating behaviour directed towards people with mental health problems, whereas self-stigma is when an individual accepts the common stereotype.

One of the most pertinent factors hindering mental healthcare within Pakistan is stigma. Within Pakistan it limits an individual from gaining complete social acceptance; this can have devastating consequences.

Mental health is the most neglected field in Pakistan where 10- 16% of the population, more than 14 million, suffers from mild to moderate psychiatric illnesses, majority of which are women. Mental Health Pakistan believes that the incidence and prevalence of mental disorders in Pakistan is tremendously increasing in the background of growing insecurity, poverty, violence, economical problems, political uncertainty, unemployment, stressful working conditions, gender discrimination and physical illness.

Pakistan, among the other developing countries, has a higher prevalence rate of depression because of the current social adversities. Mean overall prevalence of depressive disorders and anxiety is 34%.

Pakistani women face an even greater risk as frequent targets of domestic violence, and are constant victims of gender-inequality. 

Our society is still cautious about openly discussing their psychological issues. In particular, gender-related problems are misinterpreted. People recognize the negative stigma and discrimination associated with having mental illness and don’t want to be labeled as ‘mentally ill’..

The situation is different abroad. Germany’s mental healthcare system is shown to be of one the leading countries in terms of mental health treatment. It is providing mentally ill citizens with financial support and gives them access to healthcare services.[1]

Mental Health America is committed to promote mental health as a critical part of overall wellness. We advocate for prevention services for all, early identification and intervention for those at risk, integrated services, care and treatment for those who need it. 

An estimated 46 million American adults experience mental illness but only 41% get help for it, according to the National Alliance on Mental Health . The problems range from depression and anxiety to substance abuse. A big reason why so many don’t seek help is stigma. But there’s no shame in finding a listening, caring voice. Sometimes just being heard and discussing solutions is all it takes. According to a report by the Society for Human Resource Management, 81% of US employers offer mental health benefits. But many employees don’t take advantage of them. Many companies also offer employee assistance programs that can include a therapist at the work site, free of charge for a certain number of visits per year.[2]

In Australia, mostly the patients visit to doctors due to psychological issues and those seeking mental health treatment face double the death rate compared to the general population. In an effort to reduce the death rate among mentally ill Australians, the government released a digital mental health care program in 2017 that provides citizens with online therapy, resources, and a variety of other on-demand psychotherapist tools.

The burden of mental illness on individuals and society are inevitable. “While many European countries have put in place policies and programs to address mental illness, much more can be done to promote and better manage mental health. There is increasing evidence that countries can do much better at managing mental illness even with limited funding. 

Mental health is a really serious topic and an impact on everyone which just needs to be accepted. Suffering from such illness is nothing to be ashamed of but this is not how some people think. Rather they think negatively. We all deal with mental problems and if I say, I also have mental illness, that does not mean I am crazy, scary, dangerous, violent or weak. That does not mean I am stupid. 

We need to change the culture of this topic and make it ‘Okay’ to speak about with anyone. We need to break the silence. We must break this stereotype so that people dealing with this issue are free to talk about their problems and share it with others.

Written by:
Ayema Tahir

Work Cited:

1.“Understanding mental health care in Germany”, Stripes Europe,, Website

2.“Every year, 46 million American deal with mental illness. Only 41% get help” CNN,, Website