Destroy Depression

How I Healed my Depression

Get Instant Access

If the cardinal contributory factors to stigmatization are ignorance, fear, and hostility, then the antidotes are information, reassurance, and a vigorous antidiscriminatory campaign on the part of policy-makers and opinion-formers. It is generally accepted that if progress is to be made in the destigmatization of mental illness and the provision of more positive accurate images of psychiatric illness and psychiatry, the professionals involved in mental health issues together with patients, families, and support organizations will need to work closely with the media. (.!6> Experience in the United States suggests that a combination of approaches is needed. Journalists and broadcasters need to be persuaded that inaccurate reporting, stereotyped portrayals, and sensationalist use of discriminatory language and labels are no longer acceptable. In some parts of the United States, concerned individuals and groups have joined together to establish 'media watch' campaigns through which offensive reports and programmes are identified and responses to editors and producers organized. In the United Kingdom, complaints can be made to the Press Complaints Commission and to the Broadcasting Standards Council which has examined the whole issue of the stigmatization of the mentally ill in its revised Code of Practice/34'

A number of systematic public education campaigns have been launched in recent years specifically to improve public perceptions and combat stigmatization in the mental health field. In the United Kingdom, the Royal Colleges of Psychiatrists and of General Practitioners launched a Defeat Depression Campaign in 1992 which aimed to increase public and professional awareness of depression and its treatment. (35) At the outset of the campaign, research had shown that most members of the public did not know what depression was. Many felt that physical illness was easier to sympathize with as it was easier to see. Most considered counselling the best way to treat depression and certain life events, such as bereavement, marital breakdown, and loss of a job, as most likely to cause it. Antidepressants were not clearly understood, and were clearly confused with tranquillizers and regarded as seriously addictive. Yet the survey did show that some 90 per cent of the public polled agreed that people who suffer from depression deserve more understanding and sympathy from their families, relatives, and friends than they receive at the moment. A similar number agreed that anyone can suffer from psychiatric ill-health, while over half claimed to have a close relative or friend who had suffered from depression. Research has also shown that lowered negative perceptions towards individuals with severe mental illness are associated with previous contact with this population and with the presentation of empirically based information, including information on the association between violence and mental illness. (36)

In 1996, the World Psychiatric Association convened the first meeting of experts from around the world, representing consumer groups, public health experts, sociologists, anthropologists and psychiatrists, and embarked on a major international antistigma programme, with the main focus being on the stigma associated with schizophrenia/37.' The goal of this programme is to increase awareness and knowledge of the nature of schizophrenia and treatment options, to improve public attitudes about those who have or have had schizophrenia and their families, and to generate action to eliminate discrimination and prejudice. Pilot initiatives in Spain, Canada, and Austria have commenced, and the programme is designed to involve local and national authorities, the media, voluntary and self-help groups, mental health care and educational professionals, and the psychiatrically ill.

Was this article helpful?

0 0
Defeat Depression

Defeat Depression

Learning About How To Defeat Depression Can Have Amazing Benefits For Your Life And Success! Discover ways to cope with depression and melancholic tendencies! Depression and anxiety particularly have become so prevalent that it’s exceedingly common for individuals to be taking medication for one or even both of these mood disorders.

Get My Free Ebook

Post a comment