On the 3rd and 4th March 2016 the Psychosis Research Unit held its first conference on the topic of stigma and discrimination. Entitled “Challenging the Stigma of Psychosis: Advances in Theory, Research & Practice” this event brought together like-minded service users, clinicians and researchers from across the globe who are passionate about challenging discrimination. The event was really well attended, regardless of deluge of snow on 4th March! We had 55 people attend the workshop on 3rd March and 72 at the main conference event on 4th March.
The mission of the conference was to share promising practice, disseminate scientific research, raise awareness of how societal and internalised stigma affects the lives of people who experience psychosis and increase skills to challenge and overcome stigma. Feedback from those who attended was that the talks from people with lived experience were really valued.
The HOP program has been developed to reduce self-stigma and promote the empowerment of people who have experience of mental health difficulties. The program is led by those with experience of mental health difficulties and the three core lessons of the program include the pros and cons of disclosing a mental health problem, the different ways to disclose and telling your story.
On 4th March we were delighted to welcome Professor Graham Thornicroft to deliver a keynote on what works to reduce stigma. Professor Thornicroft delivered an inspirational keynote in which he highlighted the global scale of discrimination and the importance of mental health discrimination being included in the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDG).
The conference day on 4th March included a wide range of speakers who delivered talks based on their personal experience of stigma, discrimination and psychosis, their research and clinical practice. In addition to Professor’s Corrigan and Thornicroft speakers included:
• Rai Waddingham, for more information see HERE
• Mirabai Swingler founder of the ‘Only Us’ campaign, for more information see HERE
• Lisa Couperthwaite from McPin Foundation, for more information see HERE
• Vanessa Pinfold from McPin Foundation, for more information see HERE
• Tony Morrison, for more information see HERE
• Lisa Wood for more information see HERE
• Kathy Greenwood, for more information see HERE
• Mary Welford
• Eleanor Longden, for more information see HERE
• Melissa Pyle, for more information see HERE
Personally, the two days were incredibly thought provoking and my take home messages were the importance of social contact, peer support and mental health activism as key strategies to promote empowerment and reduce the harmful effects of stigma. Also for me, the two days were a spotlight on the wider political issues which maintain discrimination.
We hope to hold future events on the topic of stigma and discrimination.