Background: Mental health stigma has been associated with delays in seeking treatment. Aims: To describe perceived stigma experienced by patients and carers in Sri Lanka and to determine the effects of stigma on help-seeking delay. Methods: Survey of outpatients and family carers (n = 118 dyads) attending two psychiatric hospitals in Sri Lanka, using the Disclosure and Discrimination subscales of the Stigma Scale. Results: Stigma was positively related to help-seeking delay for carers but not patients. Public stigma experienced by carers accounted for 23% of the variance in help-seeking delay. Conclusion: Reducing stigma may reduce help-seeking delays during the course of treatment. 2016 John Wiley & Sons Australia, Ltd.