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Welcome to the National Guard Family Program e-learning lesson on Understanding and Challenging Stigma. This lesson will give you an understanding of stigma and how it creates barriers for many service members and their families. In our society, there is a stigma associated with mental health disorders based on myths and negative stereotypes. This stigma prevents people from receiving the care and assistance they need. Before we can effectively combat stigma, we need to recognize stigmatizing attitudes and misinformation, understand stigma's negative impact, and identify effective anti-stigma strategies. At the end of this lesson, you will be able to identify stigma beliefs in yourself and in our culture, recall the way stigma impacts those needing additional help, recognize practical anti-stigma actions that can be taken on behalf of service members and their families.

This lesson will help you understand and combat stigma faced by people with mental health disorders.

In this lesson, you will gain new insight about the subtle ways our culture negatively stereotypes mental illness through commercials, magazines, movies, and the use of language and jokes. You will also recognize the impact that stigma has on service members and their families and the resulting feelings they may have about seeking help for emotional problems. Stigma puts service members at a greater risk for trying to manage difficulties without getting help. This lesson intends to change belief systems and encourage you to actively address stigma in your environment.

Stigma must be understood and challenged.

Stigma is a cloud of disgrace that surrounds a person or group based on widespread misinformation about that person or group. Stigma associated with mental health problems can be a barrier to seeking adequate mental health care. Understanding the stigma associated with mental health disorders starts with the self. First, you must explore your own stereotypes of people with mental illness and raise your awareness about the damaging effects of stigma.