Published online Mar 19, 2021. doi: 10.5498/wjp.v11.i3.63
Peer-review started: December 20, 2020
First decision: January 7, 2021
Revised: January 14, 2021
Accepted: February 26, 2021
Article in press: February 26, 2021
Published online: March 19, 2021
Public stigma and self-stigma impact negatively on the lives of people with mental health issues. Many people in society stereotype and discriminate against people with mental ill-health, and often this negative process of marginalisation is internalised by people with lived experiences. Thus, this negative internalisation leads to the development of self-stigma. In this article, I reflect on my own experiences of shame and self-stigma as a person with mental ill-health socially bullied by peers from my community and social groups. I present a personal narrative of both public and self-stigmatisation which I hope will enable me to exorcise memories of internalised stigma, which are encountered as my demons of lived experience. Using reflexivity, a process used widely in health and social care fields, I consider how social bullying shattered my fragile confidence, self-esteem, and self-efficacy in the early days of my recovery; the impact of associative stigma on family members is also explored. Following this, the potential to empower people who experience shame and stigma is explored alongside effective anti-stigma processes which challenge discrimination. I connect the concept of recovery with the notion of empowerment, both of which emphasise the importance of agency and self-efficacy for people with mental ill-health. Finally, I consider how the concepts of empowerment and recovery can challenge both the public stigma held by peers in the community and the self-stigma of those with lived experiences.
Core Tip: The article explores the experiences of stigma and discrimination experienced by a person with lived experience of mental ill-health. It explores how both public stigma and self-stigma can shatter fragile confidence and impact negatively on both self-efficacy and self-esteem. Connections with the importance of empowerment and recovery in mental health are considered, and how they can overcome the sense of shame and self-pity experienced by people with mental ill-health who encounter social bullying by peers in their community.