Recognize Marketing Tactics that Use Mental Health Stigma

July 25, 2022 Laura A. Barton

The basis of marketing is pretty simple: identify a problem your target customer is facing and offer a solution. In most cases, it’s effective, but, unfortunately, it’s also used in predatory marketing practices that don’t necessarily a sound product or opportunity to offer. It’s important to be able to recognize mental health stigma used in marketing tactics in order to protect yourself from falling prey to them.

Marketing Tactics Rooted in Mental Health Stigma

Going hand-in-hand with my interest and struggles with mental health, I’m keen on identifying problematic marketing tactics that prey on those struggling with mental health issues. 

I know when the struggles are bad that we’ll try just about anything to make them stop, but we need to be careful about false promises that are only marketed to us because we’re in a vulnerable space. I’ve seen people buy into these ideas only to be disappointed because they don’t work and even feel like they’re the ones to blame.

Here are a few examples of how mental health stigma is used in marketing.

  1. Disregarding the complexity of mental health issues: The product or business model is presented as something that can solve mental health struggles while completely overlooking the complex biological and environmental factors that play a role in them.
  2. Invalidating your feelings, struggles, or experiences: This is typically done by suggesting that your problems or feelings aren’t as bad as you think. Sometimes, they even throw in the idea of how someone else has it worse, so you shouldn’t feel as you do.
  3. Blaming you for failures: In the event that whatever they’re presenting doesn’t do as promised—make you happier, bring you peace, ease your struggles, for example—then it’s made out to be your fault. The messaging will be that you’re not trying hard enough or you’re not doing something right. Mental health struggles are not your fault.

Questions to Ask to Recognize Problematic Marketing Tactics

There are many more tactics that problematic marketers use to prey on people with mental health issues, but the above are a few keys ones I’ve noticed.

Don’t worry. There are ways we can arm ourselves against these kinds of predatory practices. Ask yourself these types of questions about the product or opportunity presented to you:

  • Are the promises realistic?
  • Why are you responding so strongly to the offer?
  • Are they preying on desperation?
  • Are there legitimate testimonials for whatever it is?

Asking yourself these questions as well as researching what’s being offered will help you recognize problematic marketing tactics that use mental health stigma to lure people in.

APA Reference
Barton, L. (2022, July 25). Recognize Marketing Tactics that Use Mental Health Stigma, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, July 19 from

Author: Laura A. Barton

Laura A. Barton is a fiction and non-fiction writer from Ontario, Canada. Find her on Twitter, FacebookInstagram, and Goodreads.

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