Much research shows that staff members within the health sector - the psychiatric sector included - do not differ from the general population when it comes to stigmatisation of those suffering from mental illness and their relatives. The staff members are in close contact with service users and their relatives, but they also manage a position of power. This allows them to wield great influence on the self-image of the service users. A negative self-image can lead to self-stigmatisation.
For many service users and relatives, their contact with the staff and their encounter with the systems related with social care and employment, the social psychiatric sector and employment centres included, plays a major role for their prospects for inclusion and getting better. Experience has shown that stigmatisation occurs in this context as it does in other parts of society.
Receiving support for obtaining access to social networks, financial support, treatment, education, employment and leisure time activities is essential to be able to live a meaningful life as others do. Therefore, it is crucial that the staff members, in their professional efforts, understand the importance of promoting hope of recovery and in their approach clearly show that a diagnosis does not define the person.
As a part of our efforts, we will launch initiatives targeted at staff in the health sector, social sector, students and teachers in the health care and social programs, etc. The goal will be to start activities that can promote reflection on culture and language as well as challenge the stigmatising and discriminatory attitudes towards mental illness and various groups of service users and patients. The means used can be similar to the broader campaign, but the message focuses at the professional consequences of stigmatising behaviour.
Other relevant staff groups are doctors, teachers, educators, study counsellors, caretakers, sports leaders, police, etc.