Is it "OK to not be OK" at school? Mental illness stigma

Rachel Taylor, Rebecca Johnson, Simon C. Hunter, Nicola Cogan, Pat Corrigan

Research output: Contribution to specialist publicationArticle


School pupils are in a key developmental period, often characterised by experimentation, impulsivity, curiosity and uncertainty, making it a time of heightened risk for the onset of mental illness. The average onset of a mental illness is around the age of 14, with half of all mental illnesses being diagnosed by the age of by the age of 18. Stigma in relation to mental illness has been identified as a barrier to young people seeking treatment and speaking out about their experiences. Young people's experiences suggest that they do not believe it is “OK to not be OK”. This is concerning, as experiencing untreated mental illness from a young age can have a long-lasting negative impact on life outcomes including poor academic achievement, reduced employment opportunities, increased likelihood of mental health challenges in later life, increased risk-taking behaviour, and poorly developed relationships. School represents a key time to target anti-stigma interventions, to prevent these pervasive negative impacts. In this article, we explain what stigma is and why we should be thinking about ways to effectively tackle it.
Original languageEnglish
Specialist publicationEducation Today
Publication statusPublished - 4 Feb 2022


  • mental health
  • self stigma
  • schools
  • children
  • young people


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