Persons with mental illness frequently encounter public stigma. This review seeks to clarify mental illness stigma and discuss methods for changing stigma in the real world. Following an overview of public stigma we discuss the main avenues recognised for changing stigma in the real world: protest, education and contact; and give examples of anti-stigma strategies in practice. Finally, we discuss the most effective method, contact, in greater detail through three different areas where anti-stigma efforts have been focused: disclosure, children, and patient-based programs. Anti-stigma programs that focus upon the most effective ways to diminish stigma will help bring about change in the stigmatising attitudes of the general public.