The Academy, Self Management and Scotland Reducing Gambling Harm Programme are working together to explore the topic of stigma.

The ALLIANCE’s Health and Social Care Academy, Self Management Team and the Scotland Reducing Gambling Harm Programme have all encountered the topic of stigma within their various workstreams. Organisations and people with lived experience have told us that stigma can act as a barrier to people accessing the treatment and support they need, as well as making people feel isolated in their experiences and exacerbating already difficult experiences and circumstances.

Across these programmes, stigma has been raised in relation to a huge variety of areas such as mental health, weight, poverty, gambling harm, addiction, homelessness, suicide and physical health conditions.

Recognising the prevalence of stigma across our areas of work, these programmes have linked together to explore this topic in greater detail, including people’s experiences, key learning, current work being done to tackle stigma and practical tools, tips and resources for this.

The ‘Reducing Stigma, Emphasising Humanity’ involved a series of three events to bring together policy, practice and people with lived experience to explore the societal barriers people face because of stigma. Events have focused on key themes including the links between stigma and trauma, poverty and anti-stigma campaigns through the lens of lived experience.

As part of this series several emerging themes have been identified, these include the following:

  • Media, campaigns and public discourse
  • Lived Experience and Co-production in tackling stigma
  • Stigma on an interpersonal level
  • Challenging the culture of stigma

 Key speakers from past events have included representatives from See Me, Scottish Women’s Convention, Poverty Alliance and people with lived experience.

As part of the ALLIANCE Digital Gathering 2022, the third and most recent Reducing Stigma, Emphasising Humanity session focused on exploring anti-stigma campaigns through the lens of lived experience. The session was chaired by Nick Jedrzejewski from See Me who acknowledged that to run a successful campaign, it is crucial that the message is owned by people with lived experience, and that the message looks past people’s diagnoses and sees them as people.

The session also included lived experience speakers Dawn Getliffe and Ly Kerr who shared their own experiences and areas of work they take part in to help reduce stigma. Dawn, who is a volunteer with See Me, shared her project ‘Pass the Parcel’ which aimed to get people talking about their mental health in response to COVID-19. This project resonated with many delegates who attended the session, and many have been thinking about how they can use Pass the Parcel across many different areas of work to help tackle stigma.

Ly shared some of her experiences over the years of experiencing prejudice from healthcare professionals who refused to take her seriously due to her weight. To hear more about Ly’s experiences, please read her ALLIANCE opinion piece.

In addition to the events, individuals also told their experiences through opinion pieces, with the aim to raise awareness and initiate actions on how stigmatisation could and should be tackled. Find these writings below.

The stigma team will be publishing a report in the coming months which will summarise the work of the reducing stigma, emphasising humanity series, and outline calls to action to take forward in the future. More details to follow!

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