Stigma adds massively to the suffering of folk who have mental health issues. It may prevent their seeking support, leave them feeling isolated and ashamed that they have a ‘weakness’. There are even greater stigmas around addictions, and gambling disorders are known as the ‘invisible addiction’ – not only because you can’t see a substance involved, but also because there is very little understanding and awareness in the population. This includes health and other care professionals and policy makers. The consequence is that there is a lack of support services.
Across the mental health field there have been vibrant, powerful and dynamic anti-stigma campaigns and initiatives which have helped reduce stigma although there is still a long way to go.
The Machine Zone is developing a project to address stigma and gambling disorders. As with most anti-stigma initiatives we aim primarily to raise awareness and knowledge, and dispel myths. We shall also focus upon stigma itself – what it is, its damaging effects, and how we can cope with it.Initially, the idea was to take this into community settings, including prisons, with the aim of raising awareness, discussing issues, signposting support and encouraging citizen involvement. With Covid restrictions, we will now be presenting the project online, hoping in the future to work in communities. The project will be delivered in March 2021.
The project will include a film about lived experience and there will be sections about support, community work, stigma, articles for professionals and media, links and networks, partnership working, and a forum for discussion. We’ll refer to the many sections of the population bearing multiple stigmas and difficulties such as poverty, exclusion, social discrimination, poor health, inequality. We believe that one of the best ways to challenge stigma is to raise awareness and hear the voices of those affected.
This work contributes to NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde’s Healthy Minds anti-stigma initiatives, and several Third Sector mental health and addiction anti-stigma projects.
We’d love to include as many voices as possible. Please go here to read an invitation to contribute your own story.