Overcoming Mental Health Stigma in New Jersey

The reality is mental health stigma runs deep in New Jersey. Many still see conditions like depression or anxiety as a sign of weakness or a character flaw. This leads too many to suffer in silence rather than seek help.

A 2019 study found over 60% of NJ residents feel uncomfortable discussing mental health issues or believe people with these conditions are unpredictable or dangerous. Stigma deters an estimated many people with mental health conditions in New Jersey from accessing treatment due to fear of judgment or discrimination.

Stigma also causes many healthcare providers in NJ to spend less time with patients with mental health conditions, take their concerns less seriously, and perceive them as less deserving of medical care. It also leads to social isolation, unemployment or underemployment, and poorer physical health outcomes for those with mental health conditions in New Jersey.

Three Different Mental Health Stigmas

There are three main types of stigma surrounding mental health issues in New Jersey that often prevent people from seeking treatment.

Public stigma

Public stigma comes from negative and discriminatory attitudes held by people in a community. You may have heard insensitive comments about those with mental illness being “crazy” or “unstable.” These stereotypes lead to prejudice and discrimination, like difficulty finding housing or employment.


When you believe the negative public attitudes about mental illness and apply them to yourself, it’s known as self-stigma. You may feel ashamed or embarrassed or feel like you should be able to “snap out of it.” Self-stigma often prevents people from acknowledging they need help and seeking treatment.

Institutional stigma

Institutional stigma refers to discriminatory policies and practices within organizations that disadvantage those with mental health conditions. For example, an insurance provider that limits coverage for mental healthcare or a school system that makes it difficult for students to get counseling services.

woman sitting alone

The Negative Impacts of Mental Health Stigma

The stigma surrounding mental health issues causes real harm in many ways.

Isolation and Loneliness

Feeling ashamed of a mental health condition can lead people to isolate themselves and avoid social interaction or support. Many withdraw from friends and family or don’t seek professional help. This loneliness and lack of a support system only makes symptoms worse and recovery harder.

Worsening Conditions

The fear of judgment often prevents people from opening up to a doctor or therapist about their symptoms. Without proper diagnosis and treatment, conditions like depression, anxiety, PTSD, or bipolar disorder can severely worsen over time. What could have been managed with therapy or medication may have become a life-threatening crisis.

Lost Opportunities

Stigma also leads to discrimination in schools, workplaces, and communities. People may face barriers to employment, education, healthcare, or housing. They are wrongly seen as incapable or unstable rather than as whole human beings deserving of the same rights and opportunities as anyone else.

Spreading Misinformation

Myths and stereotypes about mental illness are perpetuated when people remain silent due to fear of stigma. This spreads misinformation and further isolates those suffering. The only way to overcome stigma is by educating others and raising awareness with compassion and truth.

woman in therapy

How Residents Can Help Overcome Mental Health Stigma

As a resident of New Jersey, there are several ways you can help reduce the stigma around mental health in your community.

Educate Yourself

The first step is to educate yourself about mental health conditions and learn the facts. Mental health issues are not the result of personal weakness or a character flaw. They are legitimate medical conditions that often respond well to treatment.

Different conditions have various symptoms and require customized care. Understanding the realities of mental health will help combat stereotypes and misconceptions.

Mind Your Language

Pay attention to the language you use when talking about mental health. Don’t use stigmatizing words like “crazy” or “psycho”. Instead, say a person “has a mental health condition” or “lives with schizophrenia/depression/anxiety/etc.”. Your choice of words has power, and using respectful language can go a long way.

Share Your Story

If you live with a mental health condition, consider sharing your story to help others understand what it’s really like. Putting a human face to these issues can be incredibly impactful. You may inspire others to share their experiences and seek help.

Support Advocacy Groups

Many organizations are working to promote mental health and reduce stigma. Support groups like the National Alliance on Mental Illness by donating or volunteering your time. Attend or promote their awareness events.

Be an Ally

Speak up against stigma when you see or hear it. Correct misconceptions and stereotypes about mental health in conversations with friends, family or colleagues. Let people with mental health conditions know you support them.

Reach Out To North Jersey Recovery Center

The stigma surrounding mental illness is damaging and preventable. Don’t let the shame and misconceptions about disorders like depression or anxiety stop you from seeking help. Learn the facts about your condition and spread awareness to dismantle stereotypes.

For more help, contact New Jersey Recovery Solutions. Allow our caring team of professionals to help you find healing and hope. We offer confidential assessments, therapy, medication management, counseling, and support groups.

Our holistic approach considers your mental, physical and spiritual well-being. We are here for you anytime you need – call us today at (908) 913-7399. There are always alternatives to suffering in silence, so take the first step and reach out. Help and healing are absolutely within your grasp.

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