hero's mission: Transforming Stigma into Strength

Understanding the Cycle of Stigma

“The threat of stigma is so powerful as to prevent the vast majority from obtaining even an initial interview with a professional. Stigma is personal.”


Our Mission

In the Hero’s Journey, we learned that the Hero goes away to a Strange place (Magical World) and discovers a magic talent or formula that helps him/her overcome a serious and debilitating flaw. Then we learned that the Hero must return (cf. Prodigal’s Return) and share that discovery with the former community in the Ordinary world. We saw how this Archetypal Journey represents our experiences with Mental Illness/Substance Use and our successful Recovery and consequent Health and Wellbeing.

In order to discover the Special Knowledge that will lead us back to Stability, we must first learn to understand stigma

Stigma generally includes:

Stereotypes: unfair beliefs that all people with particular characteristics are the same

Prejudice: unfair feelings or dislike for persons or groups because of sex, religion, race, creed or national origin, etc.

Discrimination: the practice of unfairness by treating persons or groups differently from other persons or groups.

So; stereotypes are related to thoughts, prejudice comes from feelings, and discrimination relates to behavior. All of these adversely affect our MH. Stigma affects all of these; our thoughts, our feelings, and our behavior.

Break the Stigma

Beyond the Mask of Secrecy

“The threat of stigma is so powerful as to prevent the vast majority from obtaining even an initial interview with a professional. Stigma is personal.”


Results of Stigma

Devastating Results

The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) states that stigma leads to:

  • Inadequate insurance coverage for mental health services
  • Fear, mistrust, and violence against people living with mental illness and their families
  • Family and friends turning their backs on people with mental illness
  • Prejudice and discrimination

With three-quarters of our population with diagnosable MH issues not seeking treatment, our society is suffering from stigma and unable to live up to our full potential. Stigma is often worse than the MH/SU challenges themselves. It is both a subtle influence and broadly felt experience. In my experience:

  • I was ashamed
  • I didn’t want other people to find out, and
  • I felt marginalized, isolated, and exploited.

But there is Hope: by understanding more about stigma, we can strive to overcome its effects.

The Cycle of Stigma

Reference to stigma involves not just the formal definition: an attribute of shame. It refers to an entire cyclical system that features shame as the initiator.

  1. Stigma begins with shame
  2. Shame leads to silence
  3. Silence leads to adverse behavior (isolation, social injustice (isolation, marginalization, exploitation), self destructive behavior, sabotage, and suicide. (cf. Johari)
  4. The Feedback loops in the System repeat and reinforce the Cycle.

Aspects (or all) of this cycle are present both in the lives of MH Individuals and someone who loves or cares for another who lives with MH challenges.

Our Mission

Our Mission:

Our mission is turn this knowledge of the effects of stigma into a source of strength, recovery and renewal. This will enable the following dramatic transformations in our lives:

  1. We should begin to feel less shame and anxiety about our own MH. We should begin to see that this is a part of our Soul Journey that makes us so special…even attractive.
  2. We become more comfortable talking to people about our past and about our successful recovery
  3. Other people become inspired to openly talk about their own MH challenges.
  4. It feels great! We begin sharing with each other what we have learned and experienced and the burden of shame begins to slide off our shoulders.
  5. We contribute to a culture of Transforming Stigma into Strength, contributing to the Peer Movement, and bringing the Magic of our Soul Journey back into the Ordinary World where it can contribute to helping others in their Journey.



pixels forged by Creative Specialties/INTP Whole Brain