Stigma in language

Stigmatization of Eating Disorders

Gina Dimitropoulos’s paper for Canada’s National Eating Disorder Information Centre highlights some great information on the distorted perceptions held in public and professional spheres, the consequences that these negative attitudes can have for individuals experiencing eating disorders, and tips for challenging internalized stigma and stigma in the public, professional, and family roles.

An Abbotsford student’s view of addictions and losing stigma

After working with a local network of current and former drug users, 18 year old Max Kerr realized that he had many distorted perceptions towards homelessness and addiction. “When I came to my first meeting I kind of just kept to myself, and I was really nervous. I didn’t entirely want to shake people’s hands because all the perceptions I had were: homeless people are grimy, they’re dirty. And anyone I told about this, they said ‘Well, be careful that they don’t try to manipulate you into giving them money or drugs or something,’” he said. “As soon as I met them, I knew that my perception of them was wrong. I think a lot of people probably know that, too, but they don’t listen to that thought,” he said. Are you seeing clearly? Refocus and look again. Click the title for the entire story from The Abbotsford News.

Facing homelessness | Rex Hohlbein | TEDxRainier VIDEO

In this TEDtalk, Rex Hohlbein gives some insight into the experience of being homeless. Rex is creator of Facing Homelessness, a nonprofit Seattle, Washington. The video is about 17 minutes long, but every minute is worth the watch! “‘When you live outside, it may appear that you are mingling with everyone else. But in fact you are not, you are separated out behind a giant Plexiglas divider, and the only people that you get to talk with are those who are also living non-normal lives behind the Plexiglas.’ And then it occurred to me- When we walk past someone who is suffering on the street without acknowledging them we are creating our own Plexiglas.”

How to welcome back a colleague who is in recovery

"A good first step toward successfully supporting a person in recovery is to honestly examine your own beliefs and feelings about addiction, and to make sure that your response to the colleague you are about to welcome back isn’t hampered by any hidden negative attitudes." Are you seeing clearly? Take some time to refocus and look again. Click the “Source” link for the full article from Harvard Health Blog.


The American Psychiatric Association’s Center for Workplace Mental Health has developed a website full of educational information, case studies, and resources to help employers fight distorted perceptions and behavioral health stigma in the workplace. Follow the “Sources” link for their Employee Resources page, which features a calculator for calculating the monetary importance of prioritizing mental health in your workplace, an awareness campaign designed to reduce stigma around mental health, tools for addressing depression in the workplace, and the opportunity to sign up for their monthly Mental Health Works newsletter. Addictions materials are available in the tabs near the top of the page.

How to talk about mental health issues at work

“Ideally your employer is recognizing that ‘mental health and physical health are closely connected.... But you as an employee can do a number of things to advocate for yourself.” Hint: This includes fighting both internal and external distorted perceptions. Click the title for the entire article “How to talk about mental health issues at work” from NBC News.

Stats: Mental Health in the Workplace

“The truth is, many people living with mental health conditions are productive, reliable employees and leaders who live full and satisfying lives. But even in the most progressive workplaces, many employees keep their conditions secret. They may be afraid that being open about them will hurt their reputation, compromise work relationships, or even jeopardize their job.” Click the title for the full article from Kaiser Permanente "Reducing mental health stigma in the workplace" for more stats and tips for changing workplace culture.