There Is No Stigma

DJ Jaffe, Executive Director of Mental Illness, has come out and told it like it is. In a letter to the editor of City Voices, the consumer mental health advocacy journal, he dispels the myth about stigma.

I’m taking the liberty of typing his letter into my blog:

There Is No Stigma

Stigma is defined as a “mark of shame” or “token of disgrace.” Mental illness is not a mark of shame. It is not a token of disgrace. Mental illness is–like many other illnesses–a no-fault disorder. Yet many persons with mental illness believe there is stigma. Why is that? It is because many in the general public are prejudiced against, discriminate against and dislike persons with mental illness. Some with the illness, rather than recognizing the bigotry, prejudice and discrimination in others, believe them and as a result have come to believe there is stigma–that having a mental illness is in fact a “mark of shame.”

Unfortunately, their belief system is encouraged by mental health advocates and organizations that go around teaching there is stigma. This is wrong. People with cancer, gays, African Americans, lefties and other once believed there was stigma to their circumstances for the exact same reason others discriminated against them. Over time, these groups moved from believing there is stigma to fighting the bigotry, prejudice and discrimination in others. Few believe there is stigma to having cancer, being gay, leftie or African American anymore.

It’s time to move on. Mental health advocates should stop teaching people with mental illness that there is stigma. Start teaching there is none. And start fighting bigotry, prejudice, and discrimination in others.


I’ll come here on Thursday with my response to the editor’s letter.

Author: Chris Bruni

Christina Bruni is the author of the critically acclaimed memoir Left of the Dial. She contributed a chapter "Recovery is Within Reach" to Benessere Psicologico: Contemporary Thought on Italian American Mental Health. As well as an author and activist, Bruni is an artist and athlete.

2 thoughts on “There Is No Stigma”

  1. Stigma bandwagon has been nothing but a diversion to putting in real attention to what is needed to help people with serious mental illness. SO many questionable healthcare workers have fed from this money trough because its an easy way to earn a living.


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