What Is Stigma And Why Should We Care?

Stigma is defined as a mark of disgrace associated with a particular circumstance, quality, or person.

According to the CDC stigmatization “sets the bearer apart from the rest of society, bringing with it feelings of shame and isolation.”

Have you ever noticed the way that mental illness is portrayed in the media, in the church, or even in everyday conversation?

I googled movies and mental illness and among the top ten movies were Psycho, Fight Club, and Shutter Island. Where are they getting their information, because it’s certainly not accurate? It might seem like innocent story telling, but the impression that people with mental illness are ticking time bombs is nonetheless real.

In the church, the misinformation has erred on the side of over spiritualization or complete denial. However good the motives, there has been serious mistreatment, misunderstanding and harm as people have been told to go off their medication by those who think they have the ability to diagnose or “un-diagnose” those suffering with mental illness.

As Christians, why should we care?


This does not represent God’s love, grace and truth.  The fact is we live in a broken world. Pretending that isn’t so, doesn’t make it any less real. It’s inauthentic.

Stigma causes needless suffering. Those struggling with mental illness will isolate, deny their problems, and delay or refuse treatment, because they are afraid of what it will mean for them socially. It causes relational problems because their loved ones and community aren’t educated on how to support them. It can even trickle down to preventing them from caring for their basic needs.

We need to care about breaking the stigma because Jesus came to bring healing to our bodies, our minds, and our souls. As follows of Christ, we should have the same heart for those around us, treating them with love, dignity, and respect.

Scripture: Healthy people don’t need a doctor—sick people do. I have come to call not those who think they are righteous, but those who know they are sinners. Mark 2:17

Question and Action Steps:

When have you encountered stigma and how are you fighting it? Comment below, I’d love to hear from you.

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