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The SANE Blog

Managing misconceptions and stigma around BPD

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We know from our community, and research, that Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) is one of the most misunderstood and stigmatised mental health conditions out there. 

Film and television portrayals of BPD have not helped, and in many ways have contributed to the negative stereotypes that still exist, including unhelpful and inaccurate notions relating to behaviour, relationships, and recovery prospects.  

Why is this important? 

At SANE, we hear stories from our community that their diagnosis of BPD has often led to stigma and discomfort in the workplace, healthcare settings, and in their personal lives. For example, there have been experiences of workplaces challenging the need for sick days, and reports of exclusion from social situations leading to feelings of alienation.  

Stigma can be detrimental to those with complex mental health issues and can also stop people from getting the help they need or from living a full and meaningful life. 

It’s important to understand why stigma is damaging, and know how to manage the stigma that many people with BPD still face. 

What is ‘stigma’? 

Stigma is when someone sees you in a negative way because of your mental health condition. Stigma can be a result of myths, misunderstanding, ignorance and negative attitudes toward people living with mental health conditions. It can result in you being treated as somehow less than other people because of your symptoms, distress, or diagnosis.  

Experiencing stigma can range from irritating to debilitating. At the more severe end, some people find it hinders their recovery and stops them from getting the help they need. If stigma leads to prejudice and discrimination, it can make your mental health worse. Stigma can also negatively impact your self-esteem and make you feel embarrassed or ashamed about your diagnosis.  

But the good news is that everyone has the power to challenge stigma – even in small ways.  

How do I deal with misconceptions and stigma around BPD? 

You first need to first make sure you are okay and have the support you need. Don’t let stigma stop you from getting treatment or professional help.  

  1. Remember that stigma comes from ignorance 

Stigma against BPD comes from a lack of understanding or prejudice. Remembering this can help the stigma from feeling so personal – someone’s negative views say more about them than you. 

  1. Know that you are not your diagnosis 

If someone injured their foot, they would be seen as having an injured foot, not being an injured foot. It’s the same with mental health conditions. You are a person who happens to have a BPD diagnosis. You have so many good qualities and deserve to be seen for who you are as a whole person.  

  1. Speak up against negative stereotypes (if you feel safe to do so) 

When you hear someone speaking negatively or spreading false information about BPD, speak up with the facts (if you feel safe and comfortable to do so). 

It’s okay to firmly say ‘actually, that’s not correct’, or ‘that’s a stereotype’. Depending on your relationship, you can pass on any information – like SANE’s fact sheets and videos – that can help educate others. You might find that the person is receptive and understanding and wants to do better. 

If you find media that stigmatises BPD or other mental health conditions, you can report them to SANE’s StigmaWatch Program. SANE works with the media to help people with BPD, and other complex mental health needs, are portrayed responsibly. 

  1. Set boundaries 

Setting boundaries can be challenging. You don’t have to take responsibility for educating everybody. Nor do you have to put up with others’ ignorance. 

It’s okay to walk away from situations or people who are judgmental, or who make you feel uncomfortable. For example, if you are working with a healthcare professional who doesn’t seem to understand BPD, or isn’t providing you with the support you need, you don’t have to settle. You deserve to work with people who understand BPD and will treat you as a unique person.  

  1. Learn about your rights 

There are laws in Australia which protect people with BPD, and other complex mental health conditions from stigma and discrimination. For example, the Disability Discrimination Act is there to protect you from discrimination in the workplace, educational settings, and other areas of life.  

  1. Look after yourself 

Most importantly, when experiencing stigma against BPD, try and take care of yourself first. Put any coping strategies you’ve learnt into place and seek professional help if needed. It’s also a great idea to connect with others who live with BPD, such as through reading about SANE’s Peer Ambassadors, joining a peer support group


Effective medical, community and psychological treatment is available, and a person who is living with borderline personality disorder can live a fulfilling life.  

SANE offers a range of free support services for people over 18 years of age with complex mental health needs and their families and carers. Visit to choose the supports that work for you.  

Our 24/7 professionally moderated online community Forums offer a safe, anonymous and supportive online community where you can connect with others through shared experience. Visit to get started.  


If you or someone you know is at immediate risk, call 000 or visit your nearest hospital. For support with suicidal thoughts, please contact Lifeline on 13 11 14 or Suicide Call Back Service on 1300 659 467.   

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