Staff in health and social services

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 people with mental illness and their relatives.

This is a very concerning finding because staff members who are in close contact with service users and their relatives are also in a position of power, as they exercise great influence on service users’ self-image. And a negative self-image can lead to self-stigmatisation.

For many people with mental illnesses and their relatives, contact with caregivers and the systems related to social care, rehabilitation services and job centres plays a major role in the prospects for social inclusion and recovery.

Everyday language use, social manners and workplace culture are all important factors in terms of stigmatisation - for both patients/service users, relatives, colleagues and work partners. The tone and the way you talk about and to patients and service users play a very important role in the beliefs of both staff and patients in relation to possibilities for recovery.

Therefore, it is crucial that in their professional efforts staff understand the importance of supporting the hope of recovery, and of expressing clearly that a diagnosis does not define a person.

Activities

To fight stigma within the healthcare and social sectors, ONE OF US carries out activities targeting staff, students and teachers who are active in these and related areas. The goal is to 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.

As part of this effort, ONE OF US has created two packages of materials to challenge and promote reflection among staff members in the healthcare and social sectors about how they talk about and to people with mental illnesses.

The Dialogue Kickstarter

Created in cooperation with The Capital Region of Denmark and Danish Mental Health Fund, “The Dialogue Kickstarter” package can be used to reflect about the role of culture and language. Service users, relatives, leaders and staff in the psychiatric sector have helped test and refine the materials.

Start the Dialogue

Inspired by the Dialogue Kickstarter package, ONE OF US created another set of materials aimed specifically at professionals in the psychosocial rehabilitation services.

Videos

Below you find English versions of three videos that are part of the two series of materials mentioned above.  The questions that follow each video can be used to encourage discussion about the respective theme.  

I couldn't even spell the word "hope"

Description: The dissemination of hope is related to the experience of stigma. This video illustrates the professional's important role in conveying and supporting the patient's belief in recovery and in the prospect of a good life.
Duration: 4:20 min

Questions for debate:

  • Do you recognise any of the situations described in the video?
  • In the video you hear about the importance of hope. How do you convey hope to patients? What are your strong points, and where can you improve?


I was told not to ask too many questions

Description: This video outlines various situations in which patients feel that the professionals’ behaviour is stigmatising.
Duration: 6:44 min

Questions for debate:

  • Do you recognise any of the situations described in the video?
  • Have you experienced any situation in which patients might have felt stigmatised? What happened, and what could you have done differently?
  • Have you experienced situations where relatives have felt stigmatised? What happened and what could you have done differently?


Hope

Description:  Three people with lived experience of  mental illness and a staff member of the Danish healthcare system sector talk about psychiatric diagnosis and the importance of hope and recognition.
Duration: 10:02 min

Questions for debate:

  • Is there any situation in the video that you are familiar with in your everyday life?
  • What do you associate with the word hope?
  • How can employees help support the hope of recovery and a satisfying life?
  • How can users’ reciprocal interactions contribute to each other’s hope for the future?