Introduction

Of the stigmatized conditions present in society, mental illness ranks near the top of the list.  A variety of misleading and inaccurate facts generate stereotypes, fears, and forms of rejections. The stigma associated with mental ill health is detrimental to the well-being of those directly affected by mental illness; an alarming one-fifth of the Canadian population. The unfortunate stigma associated with mental ill health is a long-standing one. It is harmful and powerful, and above all, completely unacceptable.

This research paper will investigate different types of stigma with regards to its daily impact and the dangers they entail. The paper will then segue into two frameworks that will help to explain the types of anti-stigma campaigns that exist in Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom, and Australia, and their varying degrees of success. Finally, I will provide a recommendation as to how the Graham Boeckh Foundation can contribute to the organized efforts of reducing the stigma associated with mental illness.

Download the full Research Paper: A Study of Stigma -Final- Katie Deveau

Excerpt:

“Elephant in the Room” Campaign

Creation of Campaign and Mission:

The Mood Disorders Society of Canada has grown to be one of Canada’s best-connected mental health non profit organizations. It enjoys partnerships in both the public and private sectors and is involved in work as a non-profit organization. The Mood Disorders Society of Canada was founded in 1995. It was built from the need for a broad-based structure to better organize mental health services. The Mood Disorders Society of Canada strives towards eliminating discrimination against those who suffer from mental illnesses. It achieves this objective through the collaboration of like-minded organizations. Furthermore, “[The Mood Disorders Society of Canada] has taken a lead proactive role in public policy and program development in many capacities on the national stage” (The Mood Disorders Society of Canada, 2013).

Purpose of Campaign:

The purpose of the campaign “Elephant in the Room” is to eliminate the stigma often associated with mental illness. The campaign sets store in “taking action” against the stigma. Many people who suffer from mental illnesses say that the stigma is worse than the illness itself. The campaign relies on the overwhelming negative impact of stigma as validation for its mission.

Description of Campaign:

Elephant in the Room is a campaign that focuses vocalization of mental illness freely without the fear of being judged, or stigmatized. This generates productive and open conversation on a usually daunting subject. The signal for a safe place to hold these discussions is the display of a blue elephant. Despite its small size, small enough to fit in the palm of your hand, the little blue elephant is very powerful; it represents a place where you will not encounter stigmatization. This allows a liberating open discussion of mental illness without fear of judgement.

Result of Campaign

Framework 1: Contact Strategy

Framework 2: Table 1.1

Category

Point Value Assigned

Support & Empowerment

5

Improve Stigma Reduction

5

Changing Policies

3

Total Points: 13/15

Reasoning: The “Elephant in the Room” campaign received a 5/5 in the category of support and empowerment because I feel that the symbolism of the small blue elephant is a clever way to support mentally ill health individuals. It received another perfect score of 5/5 for the improvement of stigma reduction category because the elephant’s actual purpose is to encourage a non-stigmatizing safe space. Lastly, the campaign received a low score of 3/5 for their efforts in changing policies.