How Stigma Impacts ADHD

By Jeff Copper, MBA, PCC, PCAC, CPCC, ACG – February 19, 2024

What is stigma? How does it impact ADHD? Is it different from discrimination? How is it different and what are its properties? Does language play a role in stigma? How can we overcome stigma? In this blog post, I’m looking into the concept of stigma to unravel its layers and explore its implications… especially regarding its impact on ADHD.

Stigma carries immense weight in society. It’s more of a psychological judgment that casts a shadow on individuals and makes them feel inferior. Stigma can escalate to discrimination where people are judged and treated differently based on stereotypes. It is pervasive and has far-reaching consequences, and according to census records, stigma is more ubiquitous today than 70 or 80 years ago.

ADHD is a roller coaster, but the stigma surrounding it is much worse. The ups and downs in ADHD behavior are confusing. Society demands, “Why can’t you pull it together?” Or, “You should be able to do it; you did it before.”

A further challenge is that the media often plays a significant role in perpetuating negative stereotypes by promoting common myths that are inaccurate and destructive. This irresponsibility is widespread and makes it difficult to fight against.

What’s worse is that stigma discourages people from seeking help or treatment. When it comes to mental health issues, this is especially troubling. It stigmatizes everyone, including the family who carries the brunt of it. It also impacts those who work in mental health fields merely by association. It’s almost contagious and places an undue burden on everyone.

If you have been diagnosed with or are impacted by ADHD, then stigma impacts you. Understanding stigma and its implications is the first step toward dismantling its harmful effects. It will only be through education and open communication that we can break down the walls of stigma and find more compassion for those with mental health issues.

To learn more and to understand the keys to stigma, I reached out to Dr. Stephen Hinshaw, Professor of Psychology at UC Berkeley, who has studied this topic extensively for decades on a personal and academic level. Please check out my interview with him on Attention Talk Radio, “The Impact of Stigma on ADHD,”

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