The Stigma Surrounding Mental Health – Game Based Learning

One of the reasons why people avoid Mental Health services when they need them is the Stigma that surrounds it. Many people face the wrong ‘label’ of mental illness and the harm it brings. The Stigma has two kinds of effects, the effect on your self-esteem and the effect on social opportunities. Patrick Corrigan in “The American psychologist” journal says

“recommendations are reviewed for ongoing research that will more comprehensively expand understanding of the stigma–care seeking link. Implications for the development of antistigma programs that might promote care seeking and participation are also reviewed”

If within psychology there is a gap for a system to efficiently decrease the Stigma surrounding Mental Health, then I believe Game Based Learning or Serious Gaming may be the answer.

  • Research suggests that people that are labeled mentally ill, regardless of the severity or specific diagnosis are stigmatized more severely than other health conditions.
  • Study showed that less than 30% of people with psychiatric disorders seek treatment.
  • Less than 40% of respondents with mental illness in the past year received stable treatment.
  • Stigma is considered as one of the contributing factors, highlighting cues, stereotypes, prejudice, and discrimination.
  • Cues being: Psychiatric symptoms, Social-skills deficits, Physical Appearance, and Labels.
  • The poor social skills as an effect of many mental illnesses can be linked to the creation of Stigma.
  • Research suggests the similarly poor personal appearance and social skills may lead to stigmatizing attitudes e.g. “that unkempt person on the park bench must be a mental patient”
  • Common held  false stereotypes about people with mental illness include 1.) People with Mental Illnesses are violent and dangerous. 2.) People with Mental Illnesses are incompetent and incapable of independent living or real work. 3.) People with Mental Illnesses are weak and responsible for their, and the continuation of their own disorders.
  • Because of the Stigma, and possibly a reason for why the Stigma exists is people will simply avoid People with mental illness. Employers will avoid workers with mental illnesses by not hiring them. Landlords will not rent to people with mental illness in order to protect their tenants.
  • Public Stigma: Harm to Social Opportunities. Stigma harms the over-all well-being of people who are publicly labeled. The discrimination robbing people of important life opportunities. People with Mental Illnesses are frequently unable to obtain good jobs or find suitable housing due to prejudice. “Several studies have shown that public stereotypes and prejudice about mental illness have a deleterious impact on obtaining and keeping good jobs.”
  • “Results of one survey showed members of the general public who blamed individuals for their mental illness and withheld help to them were less likely to seek care for themselves.”
  • Self-Stigma: Harm to Self-Esteem. Families can feel a sense of shame secondarily as a result of a Stigma. Self-Stigma can lead to the feelings of worthlessness and suicidal thoughts.

  • Protest, Education, and Contact.
  • Stop inaccurate representations of Mental Illness in the media.
  • Stop the public believing negative views of Mental Illness.
  • Use education to provide appropriate education.
  • Education programs should reflect evidence of successful treatments.
  • Create opportunities for the public to meet and understand persons with severe mental illness.
  • Raise awareness of Anti-Stigma programs .


Corrigan, Patrick. October 2004. How Stigma Interferes with Mental Health Care. American Psychologist. 59(7):614-625. American Psychological Association. Department of Psychiatry, University of Chicago.


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