OTTAWA, June 5, 2012 /CNW/ - Stigma towards people with mental illness
ignores geographical borders, according to a major study that was
released today on Day 2 of a three-day international conference hosted
by the Mental Health Commission of Canada in Ottawa.
Nearly 600 of the world's top researchers, mental health professionals,
policy makers and people with lived experience are meeting in Ottawa
from June 4-6 for Together Against Stigma: Changing How We See Mental Illness — a conference organized by the Mental Health Commission of Canada
(MHCC) and the World Psychiatric Association Scientific Section on
Stigma and Mental Illness.
One of the many pieces of academic research that was discussed today at
the conference found that stigma against those with schizophrenia was
pervasive in all 27 countries studied, including Canada, the U.S. and
most European countries.
Regardless of where they live, the British study found people with
schizophrenia commonly experience negative discrimination in making or
keeping friends, from family members, in both finding and keeping jobs,
and in their personal relationships.
The 5th annual International Stigma Conference follows on the heels of the MHCC
launching the country's first national mental health strategy (strategy.mentalhealthcommission.ca) last month and the recent World Health Assembly proceedings in Geneva.
In addition to global patterns of mental health stigma, key themes
examined by presenters and delegates on Day 2 of the conference
included the need to build better mental health practices for
healthcare providers and youths.
"This kind of research confirms something that many of us see on a daily
basis — that stigma and discrimination against people with mental
illness is equally pervasive and debilitating regardless of where it
happens," said Heather Stuart, Chair of the World Psychiatric
Association Scientific Section. "International conferences such as this
one are important so experts and health professionals around the world
can learn from each other and share information."
"For a long time, we've tolerated poor quality services for those with
mental illness, for example second class physical health care, and I
think we have to stand up and say this is a scandal," said Graham
Thornicroft, of King's College London, Institute of Psychiatry.
Two Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) sessions were also held at the
conference today — one for Parliamentarians and one for delegates. MHFA
teaches people the skills to provide the early assistance that can help
save a life. So far 50,000 Canadians have been trained.
Award-winning actress and mental health advocate Glenn Close, her sister
Jessie Close and nephew Calen Pick were keynote speakers on the
conference's opening day. Together they founded an organization working
to eradicate the stigma and discrimination surrounding mental illness
after Jessie Close and Calen Pick faced life-and-death battles with
The conference continues Wednesday, June 6 at the Delta Ottawa City
Centre, 101 Lyon St., Ottawa. Day 3 will examine human rights and
stigma in the workplace. More detailed information about the conference
agenda, presenters and events can be found at www.togetheragainststigma2012.ca.
Follow the event on Twitter at: #Stigma2012 and @MHCC_
Members of the media are invited to attend conference sessions.
Individual media requests for interviews with presenters, mental health
experts and those with lived experience will be considered, schedule
A host of academic presentations will be released throughout the
conference. Among the papers and presentations released today were:
Evaluation of a New Mental Health Training Program for Canadian Military
Personnel Returning from a Combat and Peace Support mission in
Coming out Proud.
Addressing Stigma and Discrimination related to Mental Illness and
Substance Abuse Issues.
Stomping Out Stigma: Summit Conference for Youth.
About the Mental Health Commission of Canada
The Mental Health Commission of Canada is a catalyst for change. We are
collaborating with hundreds of partners to change the attitudes of
Canadians toward mental health problems and to improve services and
support. Our goal is to help people who live with mental health
problems and illnesses lead meaningful and productive lives. Together,
we are sparking change. The Mental Health Commission of Canada is
funded by Health Canada.
About Opening Minds
Opening Minds is the MHCC's anti-stigma initiative designed to change
the attitudes and behaviours of Canadians towards those living with a
mental health problem or illness. The initiative is currently
evaluating anti-stigma programs across Canada to identify which are
successful at changing attitudes and behaviours related to mental
illnesses. The successful programs are replicated elsewhere in the
country. Opening Minds is also working with journalism schools and the
media to identify myths and misconceptions associated with mental
illness to create a network of change and decrease stigma.
The views represented herein solely represent the views of the Mental
Health Commission of Canada.
Production of this document is made possible through a financial
contribution from Health Canada.
SOURCE Mental Health Commission of Canada
For further information:
Jacqueline (Jacquie) LaRocque
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