What’s in a word? Some words in our everyday lexicon hold a deeper, inexplicable meaning beyond their dictionary definition and become embedded in the way we think, feel, and act. “Stigma” is such a word that evokes a certain reaction when it is used. In general, it means a mark or a sign, usually of disapproval. In the context of mental illness or addiction, “stigma” can manifest itself in many ways.
Externally, those with mental or substance use disorders often experience stereotyping, negative attitudes, and discrimination from the people around them, including their communities, families, and friends. Internally, they may start to believe these stereotypes and negative attitudes about themselves, harming their self-esteem and their chance for recovery.
Source: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration – May 16, 2016