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When someone sees you in a negative way because of who you are, or how you look or act, it’s called stigma.

How Stigma Hurts

The harmful effects of stigmatizing someone with a mental health condition can include:

  • Lack of understanding and support from family, friends or coworkers
  • Fewer opportunities for work, school or social activities or trouble finding housing
  • Bullying, physical violence or harassment
  • Believing that personal success is out of reach

Mental Illnesses are Treatable

Mental illnesses and substance use disorders — just like high blood pressure, high cholesterol or diabetes — are treatable health issues.

Stigma linked to mental health and addiction often keeps people from seeking the help they need — yet for those who do, recovery is possible. To reduce mental illness-related stigma, we need to feel comfortable having conversations about it. If someone you know is coping with a mental health condition, support and understanding can go a long way.

Confidential Help is Available 24/7

If you are feeling stressed, nervous or anxious, you are not alone. Call Horizon Behavioral Health or visit Behavioral Health Programs to find a health care professional and program that’s right for you. We’ll connect you to services and programs to help you and your family handle day-to-day issues or cope with more serious difficulties.

Don’t Let Stigma Stop You From Getting Help

Stigma can be a barrier to getting treatment. It can lead to isolation and can be life threatening. Suzanne Kunis, Vice President, Behavioral Health, shares how stigma impacted her family.

Video Transcript

I was born and raised in South Jersey in a large Irish Catholic family with very modest means. My mom was a stay-at-home mom who raised six kids who all have professional careers. My dad always worked, but he had a drinking problem. It was really hard for all of us. My mother never left. You just didn't do that in those days. And at that time there was no understanding that a drinking problem was actually a serious illness. I had a horrible relationship with my father because I had no appreciation that this really was a sickness. It took years after his death to forgive him and understand, okay, this man was a human.

When I got involved with Behavioral Health, it took a while, but I realized this was my life's work and passion. But stigma is so dangerous. Stigma gets in the way. We need to treat people like people, not conditions. I'd like everybody to be able to say, “Yes, I have diabetes and I'm taking my insulin,” or, “I'm on Suboxone because I have a drug problem, but I'm doing great.” One day we'll all feel as comfortable with discussing depression and anxiety as we are with discussing diabetes and hypertension.

I'm Suzanne Kunis, and I'm making New Jersey healthier.