From 2015 to 2019, the New Day Campaign created and curated art-based public events and experiences to challenge stigma and discrimination associated with mental illness and substance use, “making the world a more healing place.” Throughout it’s 4 years of operation, the Campaign engaged hundreds of artists who had a personal connection to addiction or mental health, giving them a platform to share their experiences through art.
Researchers are studying the effects of behavioral health stigma in many different contexts, with findings showing the impact that stigma has on individuals, families, communities, and the importance of negating it’s damaging effects. Here we highlight two examples of such studies: one examining how a sense of belonging can impact internalized stigma; the other examining messaging strategies around significant mental illness (SMI) and gun violence. Keep in mind though that these are only two examples- the existing research goes far beyond this!
The Center for Psychiatric Rehabilitation is using Photovoice to help consumers to “identify and confront the experience of stigma in their lives.”
“Photovoice puts cameras in the hands of individuals and asks them to produce statements made up of pictures and words that communicate their experience… it emphasizes the knowledge of people with lived experience as a vital source of expertise… enabl[ing] people at the grassroots level without access to decision-makers to represent and define issues of concern, areas of strength, and targets for change—all of which are routinely defined by health specialists, policy makers, or professionals.”
In this interview with Spectrum News, Patrick Welch shares his experiences with PTSD as a child and Vietnam War veteran. He describes feeling isolated after returning to civilian life, and how peer support from Vietnam Veterans of America gave him “a home,” helped to break the stigma of mental illness, and empowered him to advocate for and support other veterans experiencing mental health issues.
Click the title to view the full interview from Spectrum News. The interview was part of Spectrum News’ #IAm1in5 series, which seeks to fight the stigma of mental illness by sharing local stories.
Based in California, this transitional age youth (TAY) mental health project engages young people to “improve the effectiveness of mental health services and supports for youth, reduce stigma, and increase equity through outreach, training and advocacy.”
“For a great part of our history, there’s been a stigma about needing to be tough and not showing your emotions,” said Durango Fire Chief Hal Doughty. “It set fire departments on a path for disaster.” The Durango Fire Department is fighting behavioral health stigma by incorporating a peer support team into their department, “where emergency responders, backed by mental health training, provide confidential support for their peers.” Click the title to access the full article from the Durango Herald.
Ronald Braunstein began the Me2/ Orchestra in 2011 that welcomes musicians with mental illnesses and the family members and friends who support them, with a mission “to erase the stigma surrounding mental illness (including addiction) through supportive classical music ensembles and inspiring performances.” It is “the world’s only classical music organization created for individuals with mental illnesses and the people who support them. Me2/ serves as a model organization where people with and without mental illnesses work together in an environment where acceptance is an expectation, patience is encouraged, and supporting each other is a priority.”
This Boston-based exhibit-turned-website is challenging the stigma around mental health and addiction by prominently sharing lived experiences in public spaces. Click the title to access their full website and story library.
“There is a powerful stigma surrounding mental illness in Asian American communities which is causing a crisis for their mental health. In a 2010 study of Asian Americans’ use of mental health services, participants said the primary factor preventing their use of mental health services was due to it being looked down on in their communities.
How exactly does this stigma against mental illness work within Asian American communities? Here’s what it looked like for me.”
Psychologist Todd Essig discusses the what stigma is, it’s wide reach, and how everyone can and should get involved in the fighting it. “With around 1 in 5 Americans suffering from a mental illness over the course of a year, chances are pretty good you either are, have been, or are close to someone bearing the burden by stigma. The fight to reduce that burden really should involve everyone. So, after some context, I want to talk about three ways anyone can join the fight.”