Service users and relatives

When people with mental illness meet prejudice and exclusion in social networks, educational institutions, the labour market and leisure time activities, they may feel diminished, insecure and devalued. Probably, the symptoms caused by their mental illness will get worse.

Thus, stigma can be considered “an additional illness” because it may lead to self-stigma, which occurs when prejudices are internalized and mental illness dominate one’s self-perception.

Fear, taboo and prejudice can make people with mental illness deny and hide their symptoms and problems, making early diagnosis and effective treatment more difficult. Ethnic minorities make up a particularly vulnerable group because cultural and religious interpretations of some of the catalysts for mental illness may increase stigma and self-stigma.

Relatives might also contribute to stigma due to doubts, lack of knowledge, denial or prejudice and might even experience stigma themselves because they feel that it is shameful to have someone with mental illness in the family or because there is a widespread notion that parenting is a direct cause of mental illnesses’ occurrence.


In cooperation with the service users and relatives’ organisations that are part of The Psychiatry Network, ONE OF US has taken several steps to build a network to serve people with mental illness and their relatives. ONE OF US also promotes the encounter of service users, relatives, staff and other citizens, as face-to-face contact is known as an effective means against prejudice and can increase mutual understanding.

Since lack of knowledge of symptoms and methods of treatments is one of the reasons why many people with mental health problems do not look for treatment, our efforts also include initiatives to ensure improved and more readily available information to support individuals in seeking out relevant treatment and help.