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Taking care of yourself

Stigma and discrimination

Sad boy being jeered by others: decorative image

As a carer, you may feel that people disregard or look down on you because your experience is different from their own. This is known as stigma. Stigma can result from differences such as gender, ethnicity, religion, disability and even for people associated with disability. You may suffer from stigma in how you are treated by family, friends, strangers and healthcare professionals.

If as result of stigma your rights are infringed, this is known as discrimination.

Mental illness and disability

You may find that you experience stigma because either you or the person you look after has a mental illness. Mental health problems are covered by the Equality Act 2010, which replaces the Disability Discrimination Act, and aims to end discrimination against disabled people in circumstances including employment, education and the provision of goods and services.

As a carer

If you are a carer, you may find that people don’t know what that means, or assume that you are a paid professional care worker. Some people are caring for others but do not yet realise the role they have taken on.

There are many myths about carers that create a false impression of the valuable work they do and the money they save the British economy. You may find that when you tell people you are a carer, some think that you are using your role to help you claim benefits. It might be helpful to let them know that carers save the economy £78 billion a year; a far cry from draining the economy. Taking the time to explain to people what your role entails may help them understand the pressure you can be under as a carer.

Dealing with stigma and discrimination

If you are feeling stigmatised or discriminated against, you may find it helpful to speak to others who may be experiencing similar problems in their lives. You can contact a local carers' centre to see if they have support groups. You may find that being able to both receive and offer support helps you.

If you have been discriminated against at work, at a place of learning, or accessing health treatment, you can take it further. You can speak to your employer, school or college or clinical commissioning group. If you do not have any success at this level and have followed the relevant complaints procedure, you can contact the Equality and Human Rights Commission for more information.

Watch the video below to see how one carer tackled discrimination.

Caring and discrimination

Find out why carers need to have access to support and advice about their rights.

Media last reviewed: 19/01/2012

Next review due: 19/01/2014

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Page last reviewed: 13/12/2013

Next review due: 13/12/2015

Call Carers Direct on 0300 123 1053

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Media last reviewed: 17/07/2013

Next review due: 17/07/2015