Family & Friends

Educate Yourself: Reduce the Stigma of Mental Illness

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Mental illness, such as Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD), carries with it a lot of stigma. People with mental illnesses are often perceived as “crazy,” “dumb,” and “incapable.” But for the one in four Americans who have a mental illness, these misconceptions can impact their lives almost as much as their illness does.

Negative reactions from other people, an inability to get the proper treatment, and a lack of education about mental illness has resulted in suicide becoming the third leading cause of death for people ages 14 to 25 who have a mental illness, according to Sharon Dunas, president of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI)-Westside LA.

“Mental illnesses aren’t just caused by poor parenting skills,” said Dunas during a recent NAMI conference. “They can be caused by such things as genetics, street drugs, and stress.”

The first step to understanding mental illnesses and how they affect people is to become educated.

“How can you take care of the problem when you have no knowledge of the problem,” asked Dunas.

Where to Learn More

Whether you, a loved one, or someone you know has been diagnosed with a personality disorder such as Borderline Personality Disorder, a mood disorder, an anxiety disorder, or another psychiatric disorder, or you are just curious to find out more, there are many ways you can become educated about mental illness:

  • Get Online: A good way to get started on your research is online. Through blogs like this one, online journals, the websites of associations dedicated to various mental illnesses, and the endless amount of information online, you can begin to find out about BPD and other disorders.
  • Hit the Books: Visit your local library, bookstore, or university campus to do some more in-depth research on specific disorders.
  • Attend a Conference: Many organizations, such as NAMI, hold conferences that provided information directly from the mouths of people who specialize in certain disorders. Conferences provide a good opportunity to ask questions and hear from experts.
  • Call a Local Treatment Center: No matter where you live, there is probably a treatment center near you that you can contact to find out more about a psychiatric disorder such as BPD and its treatment options. These calls are typically free and confidential.

Educating yourself about mental illness can help to get rid of stigmas and allow you to provide better support to people living with an anxiety disorder, mood disorder, personality disorder, or other psychiatric disorder.


  1. NAMI Westside Los Angeles offers free 10 week classes for those family members who have a relative with borderline personality disorder. These free classes taught by trained family members are designed by the National Education Association of Borderline Personality Disorder. These classes offer tools and skills in radical acceptance, reflective listening, mirroring, making space for the illness in the family system and empathy training. NAMI Westside LA highly recommends that you register and sign up for this free class if you want to create a healing family environment where your relative can get well. Go to our website to learn more about these classes.

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