Updated in 12/23/2009 10:31:56 PM      Viewed: 435 times      (Journal Article)
Psychiatric services (Washington, D.C.) 56 (5): 570-5 (2005)

Local projects of the world psychiatric association programme to reduce stigma and discrimination.

Richard Warner
The World Psychiatric Association Programme to Reduce Stigma and Discrimination Because of Schizophrenia, which was launched in 1996, has established projects to fight stigma in 20 countries, using social-marketing techniques to enhance their effectiveness. This article describes some of the strategies used and the lessons learned in implementing two local antistigma projects. At each site the first steps were to establish an action committee and to conduct a local survey of perceived stigma. On the basis of the survey, the local action committee selected a few homogeneous and accessible target groups, such as students, employers, and criminal justice personnel. These smaller groups were targeted, because focusing on the general public is expensive and unlikely to have a measurable impact. Messages for the target groups and the media used to reach them were carefully selected, tested, and refined. The author gives examples of the work that was done with such target groups as high school students and the criminal justice system. Guidelines are provided for setting up a consumer speakers' bureau, which is valuable for addressing target groups. The bureau can be made up of people who have experienced mental illness, family members, and mental health professionals. Guidelines are also provided for establishing a media-watch organization, which can lobby news and entertainment media to exclude negative portrayals of people with mental illness. Organizers of local projects should be on the lookout for useful changes that can become permanent, such as changes in the curriculum for high school students or for police officers in training. Projects such as these can be effective in reducing stigma and can be relatively inexpensive.
DOI: 10.1176/appi.ps.56.5.570      ISSN: 1075-2730