Authors: Rochelle Hine, Harlequin Goodes, Jessica Coburn & Leanne Vuong
Event: 2023 The MHS conference - Adelaide
Subject: StigmaBeat: Using films co-designed with rural young people to understand and reduce stigma.
Type of resource: Video
There is an established body of work exploring the complex impacts of stigma connected to mental health. The social devaluation (Goffman, 1963) associated with mental illness has been noted to impact not only individuals with mental illnesses themselves, but also their families, including their children (Reupert et al, 2021; Yates & Gatsou, 2022). Stereotype content underpinning mental illness stigma includes framing people with mental health challenges as unpredictable or dangerous, as irresponsible or weak-minded, as incompetent and lacking capacity to make fully informed decisions and choices (Corrigan & Kosyluk, 2013). People with mental health challenges are liable to become targets of prejudice and discrimination in line with this negative stereotype content (public stigma), and to internalise social devaluation, negative self-evaluations and self-criticism (self-stigma) (Hatzenbuehler & Pachankis, 2016).
An additional component of stigma relevant to consider in relation to mental health in family members is “courtesy” or “associative” stigma, in which individuals become stigmatised due to a close association with a stigmatised other. Courtesy stigma has been noted as fostering prejudice and discrimination aimed at relatives of people with mental illness (Larson & Corrigan, 2008), although much of the work on this issue focuses on families where it is a child rather than a parent presenting with mental health or behavioural issues (Reupert et al, 2021). Parents are apt to be stigmatised as being at fault for the development of illness in their child and to internalise this blame as shame and self-stigma (Hine, Maybery & Goodyear, 2018; Yates & Gatsou, 2022).
However, despite this focus on stigma in the context of family relationships, there is relatively little work that attempts to consider the ways that stigma manifests and is experienced in the lives of families where it is a parent who has a mental illness. A recent integrative review of this issue notes the need for work capable of exploring the complexity of experiences of stigma by different family members and of accounting for intersectional stigma acting on various stigmatised identities (Reupert et al, 2021).
The impact of intersectional stigma is that people affected by mental health challenges experience barriers to exercising their human rights to full citizenship and participation in life. This occurs through social exclusion, discrimination and self-imposed withdrawal as a result of internalisation of cultural norms and stereotypes.
Using a series of short films, this workshop will pilot a new innovative education and advocacy package that has been codesigned by a group of rural young people as part of the StigmaBeat Project.
StigmaBeat grew out of an international research collaboration and a partnership between Monash University and Satellite Foundation, from a desire to identify and address the structural drivers of mental illness stigma, as experienced by young rural people, in families where parent/s experiences mental health challenges. This followed publication of a literature review, through which the research team explored the concept and experience of stigma for families where a parent has mental health challenges. We found that mental health stigma interacts with and exacerbates other forms of stigma and discrimination, such as sexism, racism and homophobia. We were curious to find out how these findings might resonate for a cohort of rural young people.
Eighteen young people aged 15-25 years from Gippsland participated in two workshops, co-facilitated by peer leaders who also have lived experience of parental mental health challenges. The highly interactive workshops were designed to create a safe and inclusive space for deep and brave conversations. Young people addressed a number of key questions through discussion, games and creative exploration. Questions included: What is stigma? How does it impact on you? What would your life look like if there was no stigma? Where do you experience stigma? What would make a change? Who needs to hear these messages?
This education and advocacy workshop aims to increase understanding of and ultimately reduce stigma for young people. The basis for the workshop is three films co-created with the Gippsland participants. The films provide examples of stigmatising behaviour that people can identify but may not have thought of as problematic, demonstrate how to create safe spaces for open conversations, and show the possibilities of a world without stigma. Young people identified they have experienced stigma in schools, healthcare services, families and neighbourhoods and social services such as housing and homelessness and food relief programs.
This workshop will be co-facilitated by young people from Gippsland who co-designed the StigmaBeat films. A range of engaging methods may include short film, small and large group discussion, quizzes, Mentimeter and creative making. By taking part in this interactive workshop, we expect attendees to feel empowered to challenge assumptions around stigma, understand its impact, understand what systems, structures, policies and practices reproduce stigma, and identify what can make a difference in attendees’ own workplaces and environments.
The StigmaBeat films which will be used to stimulate critical reflection and discussion in the workshop can be viewed on youtube:
1. The importance of listening with curiosity and compassion to gain a deeper understanding of intersectional stigma, experienced by young people who have lived experience of parental mental illness.
2. Mental illness stigma permeates the lives of all of us, and is compounded by other forms of stigma and discrimination.
Reupert, A., Gladstone, B., Hine, R. H., Yates, S., McGaw, V., Charles, G., ... & Foster, K. (2021). Stigma in relation to families living with parental mental illness: An integrative review. International Journal of Mental Health Nursing, 30(1), 6-26.
Yates, S., & Gatsou, L. (2021). Idealisation and stigmatisation of parenting in families with parental mental illness. SSM-Qualitative Research in Health, 1, 100020.