Fear, taboo and prejudice can cause service users to deny and hide their symptoms and problems, making early diagnosis and effective treatment more difficult. Ethnic minorities make up a particularly vulnerable group because cultural and religious interpretations of some of the catalysts for mental illness may increase stigmatisation and self-stigmatization.
The relatives might also contribute to the stigmatisation due to doubts, ignorance, denial or prejudice. The relatives might experience stigma themselves because it is shameful to have someone suffering from mental illness in the family or because there is a widespread notion that parents act as a direct cause of the mental illness appearing.
In cooperation with the organisations for service users and relatives in The Social Network of 2009 we will start initiatives of a network building character aimed at people who suffer or have suffered from mental illness and their relatives. Likewise, we will start initiatives that promote the meeting of service users, relatives, staff and other citizens, since meeting face-to-face is known to counter prejudice and increase mutual understanding.
Since a lack of knowledge of symptoms and methods of treatments is one of the things that cause many people with mental health problems to avoid seeking treatment, our efforts should also include initiatives that help secure improved and more readily available information that supports the individual in seeking out the relevant treatment and help.