Mackay Hospital and Health Service is determined to #bethechange and help shatter the stigma towards mental health.
The Stigma Reduction Initiative raises awareness of the negative impact that stigma relating to mental illness has on individuals, their families and their recovery.
Consumer Consultant Debbie Lattimore said stigma against mental illness was common and its impact serious.
“Shattering the stigma relating to mental illness will change lives,” she said.
Stigma is a mark of disgrace that sets a person apart and makes them feel isolated.
When someone is labelled they are seen as part of a stereotyped group.
“Stigma creates feelings of shame, blame, hopelessness, distress, and reluctance to seek and/or accept help,” she said.
Ms Lattimore said three out of four people with mental illness reported experiencing stigma and often the stigma experienced was worse than the illness itself.
“When you consider that one in five adults in Queensland will experience a mental health disorder every year and approximately 50% of all Queensland adults experience a mental health disorder at some point in their life, the stigma experience is widespread,” she said.
“As a society have allowed stigma to erect barriers around effective treatment and recovery and it’s time to take those barriers down.
“If we remove stigma people will experience faster recovery times and a more positive recovery experience.
“So please next time you are confronted with someone not at their best take one moment to remember this could be you or someone close to you.”
Hospital and health service staff are encouraged to support the message by buying t-shirts with the shatter stigma message.
They are also being encouraged to reflect on their words and actions professionally during educational talks.
Ways to challenge and eliminate stigma:
- Know the truth – learn about mental health facts instead of myths
- Share what you learn with others
- Be aware of the impact of your attitudes and behaviour
- Welcome and encourage contact with people who have a mental illness to breakdown the fear of the unknown
- Highlight the injustices of mental health stigma and request change
- Speak up if you witness inappropriate behaviour or comments
- Understand the power of the words you use and use them to bring positive change
The shirts are also available to other government departments and non-government organisations working in mental health.
The initiative will be launched on Monday 31 July at 10.30am in the garden outside Homebase Café at Mackay Base Hospital.