Module 3: Busting myths & stigma

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Image source (derivative of) by Pauline Eccles / CC-BY-SA-2.0

Starts Monday 11 November 2013

Update 18th November: Video message from Eimear

What you will explore in this module:

  • The common myths and misconceptions of mental illness
  • Stigma and how it relates to mental illness
  • How stigma affects people who have mental illness
  • How you could challenge stigma and maintain an alliance with people with a mental illness
  • Your own beliefs about mental health and mental illness, and identifying what has shaped these

Within the population, you will find numerous myths and misconceptions about mental illness. This section aims to ‘bust’ some of those myths and help people understand the impact stigma has on the mental health of our community.

Reflect on the language of mental illness

Use a journal/blog (How to participate for some links to blog tools) to record some of the common phrases, names or statements you have heard people use when talking about or describing mental illness or a person who has mental illness. Where do you think they come from?

Watch Sandy Jeffs’ short video ‘A thesaurus of madness’ (‘Extended Interviews’ section of Angels and Demons with Andrew Denton).’

Read the article 'Crazy talk: the language of mental illness stigma' by David Steele, The Guardian newspaper, 2012.

Common perceptions about mental illness

Common perceptions in our community about people who have a mental illness include:

  • 'They should just snap out of it.'
  • 'You can tell someone has a mental illness by the way they look.'
  • 'They should not be allowed to have children.'
  • 'The community should be protected from people with a mental illness.'
  • 'They should be locked up.'

This list is not exhaustive.

Share some perceptions

Make a list of some other perceptions about mental illness that you have heard in your everyday activities.

Post your list in the discussion forum at the end of this page.

These lists will be collated and re-shared back to the group as snapshot of collected perceptions.

Find out more

Have a look at the Mental Health statistics, facts and myths by Time to Change advocacy group which discusses the myths and misconceptions of mental illness.


Challenge stigma

Before we can challenge stigma we first have to understand what it means. Without the use of any resources, quickly write down your understanding of stigma.

Then find 2 or 3 online resources that look at stigma in mental health.

How does your understanding of stigma compare? What were the differences and similarities?

Discuss how stigma is created

Use the discussion forum to list 3–5 things you believe contribute to stigma.

These lists will be collated by the facilitators and re-shared back to the group as snapshot of collected perceptions.

Find out more

Now, watch the short video of Fay in the DVD called ‘It's only 1/100th of me’ from NSW Consumer Advisory Group – Mental Health Inc.

Also read ‘Overcoming Stigma and Improving Mental Health in America’ by Blumenthal S ( 2012) Huffpost. Healthy Living. USA.

Discuss how to challenge stigma in society

Identify 5 ways in which you, as an individual can challenge stigma in society.

Share these in the discussion forum below.

These lists will be collated by the facilitators and re-shared back to the group as snapshot of collected perceptions.

Now...take the challenge

Challenge 3 is an activity that asks you to take your explorations about the myths and stigma of mental illness into your local community. Will you challenge yourself?


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