Tagstigma

Reading of the Week: “All Aboard the Bipolar Express” – Beth Beattie on Her Illness & Her Decision to Speak Out

From the Editor

“I was a victim of mental-health stigma – both societal and self-imposed.”

Lawyer Beth Beattie makes that observation in her essay about her experience with bipolar. Her piece – which was just published by The Globe and Mail – is moving and thoughtful.

Bipolar Express: Beattie writes about her journey

In this Reading, we highlight her essay, and comment further on the importance of people speaking out about their illness.

DG

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Reading of the Week: Hospitalizations and Ethnicity (and Stigma)

From the Editor

Younger and sicker.

This week, we look at a new paper published in The Journal of Clinical Psychiatry considering ethnicity and hospitalizations. Drawing on Ontario data, researchers looked at psychiatric hospitalizations for people of Chinese and South Asian descent, finding that they were younger and more ill at the time of admission.

Hospitalizations, ethnicity… and access

Lead author Maria Chiu of the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences told the Toronto Star:

Cultural factors play a big role in these findings. While Asian people tend to have stronger family support, they are also faced with a higher level of stigma and it prevents people from seeking help early. Families may try to cope and keep the illness within the family until there is no choice but to go to hospital.

This paper is well designed. It’s also important, speaking to larger issues about access, stigma, and ethnicity.

DG Continue reading

Reading of the Week: Big Study on a Big Problem: Stigma & Mental Health, and More

From the Editor

Stigma. Suicide prevention.

This week we consider these weighty topics with two excellent papers.

The first, written by Patten et al., looks at the perception of stigma in those receiving mental health care in Canada. The second is a “viewpoint” that asks what we need to do to reduce suicide rates – which, across the West, has not decreased in the past decade.

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Dr. David Goldbloom’s “Walrus Talk” in Calgary: What Will It Take?

Walrus Talk – March 21, 2016

My name is David Goldbloom and I’m a psychiatrist in Toronto at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health and Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Toronto. And I’m here to ask you an important question about mental health in our country: What will it take?

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Reading of the Week: Biron’s Illness and Recovery

From the Editor

Drug breakthroughs, better imaging, less invasive procedures. There are many amazing health-care stories from the past three decades but perhaps the most important one is decidedly low tech: the decline of stigma about mental illness, allowing millions of Canadians to discuss their problems and seek care.

That’s not to suggest that stigma doesn’t exist, of course. In November, we considered the Dabby et al. paper from The Canadian Journal of Psychiatry, which showed bias even on the part of psychiatrists and psychiatric residents. Though the problem continues, it’s difficult not to believe that we have turned a significant corner: late last month, for instance, Bell Canada Let’s Talk campaign managed to raise more than $6 million in a single day.

In terms of reducing stigma, it helps immeasurably when people come forward and discuss their mental health illness. I remember talking to a patient who had struggled with her diagnosis. Inspired by Olympian Clara Hughes, she posted on Facebook that she has Bipolar. In my office, she wept when describing the outpouring of support – from friends and families, yes, but also from strangers.

Stigma still exists; it takes great courage to come forward – but it’s incredibly important that people do.

This week’s Reading is one person’s story of mental illness and recovery, and his choice to tell his story.

He also happens to be the President and CEO of my hospital. And I’ve never been prouder to work at The Scarborough Hospital.

DG Continue reading

Reading of the Week: Psychiatry’s Dirty Little Secret?

Stigma has repeatedly been identified as a major barrier to help seeking for mental health problems across various disorders and across the lifespan. Stigma is also an obstacle to community reintegration and rehabilitation in people suffering from severe mental illness. Moreover, people with psychiatric diagnoses suffer the effects of discrimination in health care settings. Not only do people with mental illness have diminished access to primary care, there is evidence to suggest that physicians perform fewer physical examinations and laboratory investigations, provide less preventive health care, and undertake fewer therapeutic interventions in this population. Researchers are increasingly framing the problem of stigma as a public health issue.

So begins a new paper that considers stigma and mental health.

This week’s Reading: “Explicit and Implicit Attitudes of Canadian Psychiatrists Toward People With Mental Illness” by Dr. Layla Dabby et al., which was just published in The Canadian Journal of Psychiatry.

This paper shows that members of the public demonstrated relatively negative explicit attitudes towards mental illness. In fact, Canadians reported a desire for greater social distance from the patient with schizophrenia as opposed to the patient with diabetes, even though the study describes the patient with schizophrenia as well-controlled by medication. Wow.

Except here’s the twist in the tale. The paper actually didn’t look at the public. The paper looked at psychiatrists and residents of psychiatry. In other words, the relatively negative explicit attitude wasn’t from the uninformed small businessman in Edmonton or the teacher in Halifax; it reflects the biases of people like… me.

Is this psychiatry’s dirty little secret? Continue reading