Stigma and Discrimination

A few weeks ago I wrote that I would be starting to gather information and comment on the Stigma issue which affects the lives of so many people with mental ill health.    The subject of mental ill health is one which attracts mythology, untruth, supposition, misunderstanding, mistrust – and most “mis -somethings” that you can think of.     Of course, fear, embarrassment, denial, exclusion, are all high in the stigma ratings, and is has disturbed me to hear people say sadly that the place where they feel they have experienced greatest stigma, and stigma which really gets to them, is in their own families.   Workplace stigma, loss of peer group friends for young people, community bullying, and unacceptable descriptive words are all part of the experience of those struggling with mental ill health, and it’s negative effects on their lives.   It needs to be dealt with, and in an effective and cohesive way, and during 2007 it will feature strongly in the work of the Monmouthshire Mental Health Network and also the work of Service User Involvement.   If you would like to become involved in some small or big way in working on getting information out into the press and community which creates better understanding, and hopefully starts to reduce stigma, then let me know by e-mail, and I will keep you informed.   If you feel strongly enough to want to take a lead role in the work group, then say so, and full facilities will be available.

E-mail to caradoc.who2@ntlworld.com, or click on the stigma links in the categories or links section on the right side of the opening page, and send me a comment.

The following is an extract from the website of the Mental Health Alliance which offers two examples of recent press reporting.   It encourages you to write to the Editors of the two newspapers and tell them what you think about these comments.  

 The Sunday Times, ‘Mentally ill murder 400’

The Observer, ‘One person a week killed by mentally ill’

These were the headlines on the front of the Sunday Times and the Observer in December 2006, about the Department of Health’s report on suicides and homicides by people in contact with mental health services.

Headlines like these can add to the stigma and discrimination that people with mental health problems face. It’s important to tell newspapers how stories like this can affect you: your life, your work, your relationships.

You need to explain the effect that headlines like ‘Mentally ill murder 400’ have on you, how it affects perceptions of people with mental health problems, and the impact that has on your life.

The causes of so many of the deaths, homicides and suicides, were health service failings. The solution to these deaths is better mental health services. It’s important to remind newspapers that it is the poor state of mental health services that are the real problem.

Please send a copy of any letters you send to a newspaper to press@mind.org.uk.

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One Response to “Stigma and Discrimination”

  1. Winter Says:

    Well said! As far as I can tell almost all the cases happened as the result of massive failings in services. My own feeling is that stigma is used as form of social control and normalised bullying in our society. Many people experience more than one kind of stigma. If you are gay, diagnosed with a mental health problem and perceived as overweight, you will experience a treble dose of social stigma. Once stigmatised you become someone who can be publicy treated with contempt and may even be denied certain human rights.

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