4 APPROACHES TO REDUCING STIGMA

The current blogspot will answer the question “ what are the four approaches to reducing stigma?”. It will be based on the description of various ways to reduce stigma related to mental health. 

What are the 4 approaches to reducing stigma?

The four approaches to reducing stigma are : 

  • Protest and advocacy strategy
  • Education strategy
  • Contact strategy
  • Mental health literacy campaigns strategy

Protest and Advocacy Strategy for Stigma Reduction

The protest and advocacy strategy for reducing stigma related to mental health illnesses. A protest is based on objecting formally the negative representation of mental illnesses and associated features among people.

The protest and advocacy strategy to reduce stigma has its roots in civil rights. Such protests are usually carried out by people who have been victims of stigmatization related to mental health illnesses and their family and friends who are their true advocates.

The goal behind protest and advocacy strategy is to demolish the negative attitudes associated with mental health and associated features. It aims to decrease the negative representation of people with mental illnesses in the society and help them reintegrate in the society.

Similarly, protest messages conveyed through various mediums is another way to energise the bigger groups who agree to the messages and stand in favour of reducing stigma associated with mental health illnesses.

Protest messages also lead to an increase in group protests where people with similar beliefs gather together to convey their feelings. Such people are known as fence sisters. They exactly do not know what to do. They usually are unable to change their words into observable actions. 

Public protests at large scales also help in legislative procedures to reduce stigma and facilitate in generating increased public awareness.

Education Strategy for Combating Stigma

The education strategy for combating stigma associated with mental health illnesses tends to work by informing the misinformed through factual knowledge. It is aimed towards correction of distorted beliefs associated with negative attitudes and thinking patterns towards mental illnesses. The goal of education strategy is to replace the myths and irrational beliefs with factual knowledge. 

Research has also acknowledged education to be the best stigma change strategy. Corrigan et al (2012) concluded that inorder to break the stigma related to mental health sufferers as being violent murders, it is necessary to show the general public the statistics that reveal the homicide rates between the mentaly ill people and the general public. This will better enable them to  unlearn their distorted thinking pattern.

Similarly Giffiths et al (2014) and Quinn et al (2014) also advocated the role of education as an effective stigma change intervention and have advocated its role in reducing and decreasing stigma at public level. 

Griffiths et al (2014) in a meta analysis of publicly used stigma reduction interventions concluded   that education interventions significantly reduced the stigma related to mental illnesses and associated features. 

Similarly, Borschman et al (2014) reported a significant change in european adolescent population as a result of education interventions to anti-stigma strategies. Results reveal a significant difference in the attitudes and beliefs of the study participants.

Contact (Social Contact) Strategy for Stigma Reduction

The social contact strategy for combating stigma related to mental health aims at removing differences between people with mental health associated stigma and those without mental health associated stigma. It is a general observation that individuals  living with stigmatized conditions usually do not have much contact with those who are living without the stigmatized conditions. 

Cook et al (2014) suggested that the lack of contact between the people with stigmatized conditions and people who do not have any such conditions often results in developing feelings of discomfort and resistance.

The social contact strategy tends to overcome the boundary between the two social segments  and overcome interpersonal differences by fostering interaction and social connection between the stigmatized and non stigmatized individuals. 

Research studies have also focused and highlighted the importance of scotia; contact strategy as a way to reduce stigma. Sheera (1996) reported that social contact strategies to combat stigma work by reducing differences between the stigmatized and non stigmatized groups. It also promotes interpersonal interactions and positivity between the stigmatized and non stigmatized groups.

The social contact for reducing stigma can also take place through the various online forums that are helping the stigmatized groups to reintegrate back in society. Research evidence suggests that adolescents and young adults are more at comfort in discussing their mental health issues with online groups (Suzuki & Calzo, 2004; Webb et al, 2008).

Mental Health Literacy Campaigns

Inorder to overcome the dilemma of stigmatization of mental health illnesses, mental health literacy campaigns is yet another effective strategy to combat negative beliefs and attitudes related to mental health illnesses and associated behaviors at different platforms.

It is aimed at reducing the stigma related to mental health illnesses at all levels and promotes counseling and psychotherapy through provision of mental health literacy programs at schools, universities, colleges and offices.

The mental health literacy campaigns work towards reducing stigma by improving knowledge related to various mental health illnesses and accepting them as a part of holistic health. It facilitates building positive attitudes related to mental health illnesses and promotes seeking help attitudes for mental health illnesses among the general population at all levels of community. 

The main goal of mental health campaigns is to generally promote acceptance among the general public for all sorts of mental health illnesses and associated features among humans. Generalizing the existence of mental health illnesses leads to a greater acceptance for psychotherapy and counseling as sources of treatment for the mental disorders. 

Researchers have significantly highlighted the role of mental health campaigns in reducing stigma. Jorm (2012) stated that mental health campaigns also encourage people to seek services for the treatment of mental health illnesses by reducing the associated stigma. 

Similarly Pescosolido et al (2013) concluded that through mental health awareness campaigns, the promotion of seeking early interventions for any mental disorder would aid in more positive outcomes.

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Conclusion

The blogspot answered the question “what are the 4 strategies for reducing stigma?”. It discussed in detail the various types of tactics used to combat stigma related to mental illnesses. It elaborated on the education tactic of reducing stigma, social contact tactic of reducing stigma, protest and advocacy tactic of reducing stigma and mental health campaigns as stigma reducing tactic. We also learned the research based evidence for each stigma reducing tactic for mental illnesses.

Frequently asked questions (FAQs): 4 Approaches to reducing stigma

What factors influence stigma?

The following factors influence stigma:

  • Blame
  • Stereotypes
  • Misleading information
  • Myths
  • Lack of knowledge
  • Social and cultural values

Why is it important to reduce stigma?

It is important to reduce stigma related to mental health illnesses so that people with mental illnesses do not isolate themselves. Stigma is directly associated with lack of seeking professional help services.  If stigma is not reduced, it produces feelings of shame , guilt and humiliation among people with mental illnesses.

What are the different types of stigma?

The three different types of stigma related to mental health illnesses are:

  • Dangerousness
  • Permanence
  • incompetence

How education can reduce stigma?

Education can significantly reduce stigma related to mental health illnesses. The education strategy for stigma reduction works by providing factual knowledge about misconceptions related to mental health illnesses.

Citations

https://www.hindawi.com/journals/tswj/2012/516358/

https://ijmhs.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/1752-4458-2-3

Cook, J.E., Purdie-Vaughns, V., Meyer, I.H., and Busch, J.T.A. (2014). Intervening within and across levels: A multilevel approach to stigma and public health. Social Science and Medicine, 103, 101-109.

Shera, W. (1996). Managed care and people with severe mental illness: Challenges and opportunities for social work. Health & Social Work, 21(3), 196-201.

Jorm, A.F. (2012). Mental health literacy: Empowering the community to take action for better mental health. American Psychologist, 67(3), 231-243.

Pescosolido, B.A. (2013). The public stigma of mental illness: What do we think; what do we know; what can we prove? Journal of Health and Social Behavior, 54(1), 1-21.

Griffiths, K.M., Carron-Arthur, B., Parsons, A., and Reid, R. (2014). Effectiveness of programs for reducing the stigma associated with mental disorders. A meta-analysis of randomized, controlled trials. World Psychiatry, 13(2), 161-175.

Quinn, N., Knifton, L., Goldie, I., van Bortel, T., Dowds, J., Lasalvia, A., Scheerder, G., Boumans, J., Svab, V., Lanfredi, M., Wahlbeck, K., and Thornicroft, G. (2014). Nature and impact of European anti-stigma depression programmes. Health Promotion International, 29(3), 403-413.

Borschmann, R., Greenberg, N., Jones, N., and Henderson, R. (2014). Campaigns to reduce mental illness stigma in Europe: A scoping review. Die Psychiatrie, 11(1), 43-50.

Corrigan, P.W., Morris, S., Michaels, P.J., Rafacz, J.D., and Rüsch, N. (2012). Challenging the public stigma of mental illness: A meta-analysis of outcome studies. Psychiatric Services, 63(10), 963-973

Webb, M., Burns, J., and Collin, P. (2008). Providing online support for young people with mental health difficulties: Challenges and opportunities explored. Early Intervention in Psychiatry, 2(2), 108-113.

Suzuki, L.K., and Calzo, J.P. (2004). The search for peer advice in cyberspace: An examination of online teen bulletin boards about health and sexuality. Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology, 25(6), 685-698.

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