Reducing the Stigma of Mental Illness stems from a 1996 initiative by the World Psychiatric Association to reduce the stigma of mental illness. The program was split into four stages, and the book consists mostly of reports from 19 different countries. There was a Canadian pilot scheme in Alberta, which tried educational initiatives aimed at emergency room professionals, medical students, policy makers, and general health care professionals. This included a drama called 'Starry, Starry Night' about living with mental illness. There were also some outreaches to teen groups, clergy, business leaders, and journalists. The chapter on the Canadian program outlines all of these briefly. The next phase was in Spain and Austria, and the final two phases included the USA, Poland, Japan, Slovakia, Brazil, Egypt, the UK, and India. The book ends with some recommendations about how to carry out such anti-stigma programs. For each country, the outline of the activities that took place is brief, and there is a great deal of repetition of the basic ideas from chapter to chapter. This makes the book less useful as a resource for ideas about how to fight stigma. It is more useful to explore the Open the Doors website created by the same project, especially the materials page, which has many downloadable handouts from the initial Calgary program. Nevertheless, for someone interested learning about the WPA program, this would be a useful book to consult.
Link: Open the Doors website, associated with book
© 2008 Christian Perring
Christian Perring, Associate Professor of Philosophy, Dowling College, New York.