Mental Health Stigma Keeps Many People From Seeking Treatment

Infographic Text: Mental Health Stigma Keeps Many People From Seeking Treatment

Humanity’s attitude toward mental health has come a long way since the days of exorcisms or straight jackets. However, mental health stigma is still prevalent across the world. 

In a 2013 global survey, when asked about a hypothetical person with depression:

  • 21.5% of respondents would not hire the person even if they were qualified.
  • 35.1% believed the hypothetical person was more likely to be violent toward others.
  • 58.3% would be reluctant to have the depressed person as an in-law.
  • 77.3% would be unwilling to let the person with depression take care of their children.

Out of 16 countries, Cyprus had the most stigma, and Iceland had the least. The United States ranked 9th.

Within America, people with mental health issues still feel a lot of stigma. A study by the CDC found only 1 in 4 individuals with mental health diagnoses feel that people care for or sympathize with them.

According to the 2017 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, stigma is a common reason for people to avoid therapy. Among respondents with an “unmet need” for mental health services:

  • 13.0% were afraid of being committed or having to take medicine against their will.
  • 12.3% were concerned that their neighbors or community would form a negative opinion of them.
  • 12.1% thought treatment might have a negative effect on their job.
  • 10.9% were concerned about confidentiality in general.

(Respondents could mark multiple reasons for not seeking care, so some of these responses may overlap.)

Humanity can fight stigma through compassion, communication, and education. By combatting stigma, we can help individuals with mental health issues get the care they need. If you or someone you know needs treatment, you can find a mental health care provider through GoodTherapy.


  1. Bose, J., Hedden, S. L, Lipari, R. N., & Park-Lee, E. (2018). Key substance use and mental health indicators in the United States: Results from the 2017 National Survey on Drug Use and Health [PDF]. Rockville, MD: Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Retrieved from
  2. Pescosolido, B. A., Medina, T. R., Martin, J. K., & Long, J. S. (2013). The “backbone” of stigma: Identifying the global core of public prejudice associated with mental illness. American Journal of Public Health, 103(5), 853-860. Retrieved from
  3. The stigma of mental illness. (n.d.). Retrieved from