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Written by: Lakshmi Mahadevan, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Mental Health and Well-Being Specialist, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service

What is mental health self-stigma? Is self-stigma impacting you?

Kalichman (2019) defines mental health stigma as “the disgrace, social disapproval, or social discrediting of individuals with a mental health problem.” Stigma directly affects individuals with mental illness and the loved ones who support them, often including their family members. Subu (2021) states that self-stigma encompasses negative attitudes towards one’s own mental health or illness which may lead to a lack of self-efficacy with coping or perceived ability to recover; hesitancy to access treatment or help; and feelings of powerlessness or general lack of control when experiencing a mental health challenge.

Tips to Reduce Self-Stigma

  1. Write or speak out loud about how you feel in privacy and when you are alone. Get used to saying or writing the words, for example, “Lately I feel listless, sad, unhappy or unenthusiastic and I don’t know why.” – Consider using a tool to describe your feelings accurately.
  2. If comfortable enough, ask a friend or family member about their experiences with managing their mental health – for example, self-care techniques or counseling help. If the conversation leads to them asking you “Why” – you can choose to say, “I am not yet ready to share” or “Just asking, thanks for sharing”.
  3. Read up about self-stigma and ways to manage it.
  4. Consider sharing your story online – you can remain anonymous through the process.
  5. Reach out for peer support through your local NAMI or create/facilitate a peer support group – that allows you to feel less alone, connect with like-minded people who are recovering from similar lived experiences or take advantage of “group think” so that you can self-care and recover from mental health challenges.

Additional Resource: De-stigmatizing the Self


Kalichman S., (2019). Stigma and prejudice teaching tip sheet. In: American Psychological Association. 2019.

Subu, M.A., Wati, D.F., Netrida, N. et al. (2021). Types of stigma experienced by patients with mental illness and mental health nurses in Indonesia: A qualitative content analysis. International Journal of Mental Health Systems 15 (77).

*Photo Credit: iStockphoto/farakos