Tag Archives: stigma

Study shows that social contact intervention may reduce mental health stigma, suggests solutions journalism ideas

Photo by Alachua County via Flickr.

One of the biggest barriers to seeking mental health care is stigma. While I can point to some studies that show this all over the world, the scale of the problem is most evident simply by doing a keyword search in PubMed. Stigma is particularly discouraging for those living with substance use disorders, including alcohol use disorder.

What if training and research related to mental illness involved the people who live with mental health conditions? Could that reduce at least some of the stigma that even many clinicians have, consciously or not, about their patients and the disorders they treat? Could it improve mental health care overall? According to a new pilot study that tested this, it appears it can.

Journalists might find the study’s findings interesting because it’s a rich area for story ideas:

  • Do mental health facilities in your area explicitly do training to reduce stigma in clinicians?
  • How are people generally trained in local mental health treatment centers in your area?
  • Have patients who have been in treatment programs felt as though they were treated with respect and dignity?
  • Could patients’ perception of stigma from their clinicians be discouraging them from continuing care?
  • Are any local mental health facilities considering including people with mental illness in their training programs?  

Any one of those questions or a half dozen others could lead to possible stories to explore on a local or national level. Let’s look at how the researchers conducted this study and what they found.

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Identity-first vs. person-first language is an important distinction

Photo: U.S. Army IMCOM via Flickr

Freelance journalist Cassandra Willyard recently asked me on Twitter about resources on the use of appropriate, respectful language when it comes to how we identify the people who are living with various conditions or disabilities.

It was in response to an excellent question by biomedical research writer Kim Krieger about the acceptability of referring to someone with a condition as a descriptor, such as “epileptic child” or “diabetic adults.” Those constructions are called “identity-first” language, as opposed to “person-first” language where the person literally comes first: “children with epilepsy” and “adults with diabetes.” Continue reading

Advice from a reporter experienced in interviewing people in stigmatized populations

Heather Boerner’s October 2018 piece at NPR examined the fate of people who live without treatment for their HIV after they leave prison. The piece was pinned to a study published in PLOS One showing that people with HIV often are lost to care once they leave the monitoring and services provided in prison.

In her article, in addition to providing an in-depth perspective from several experts, Boerner also gave the reader the story of Bryan C. Jones, who had left a prison in Ohio and almost immediately ditched his HIV drugs because he knew they were no longer working. Continue reading

New tip sheet offers insights into ‘hidden’ issue of incontinence

Some may find it funny. Others struggle to discuss it. Still others shrug it off as a “normal” part of aging. No matter how you may look at it, bladder control issues are no joke for millions of older people in the U.S. Incontinence and over-active bladder (OAB) can wreak havoc on a person’s life.

It can lead to depression, social isolation or serious side effects from certain medications that treat the condition. Continue reading

U.N. official’s tour explores impact of extreme poverty in the United States

Photo: Omar Bárcena via Flickr

During a two-week U.S. fact-finding tour, Philip Alston, the United Nations special rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, said he observed scenes of suffering from coast to coast: in homeless encampments in California, in storm-ravaged enclaves in Puerto Rico, and in marginalized communities of the deep South and West Virginia.

A shortage of healthcare, infrastructure and sanitation services in low-income and minority communities are taking a serious toll, Alston said during a Dec. 15 press conference in Washington, D.C., at the conclusion of the tour. Continue reading