Welcome to the final edition of the StigmaWatch bulletin for 2020.
What a year it’s been! Between the drought and devastating bushfires affecting so many at the start of the year, and the COVID-19 pandemic that impacted the entire country and sent us into a variety of lockdowns, alongside dramatic changes to the way we go about daily life, it has been a tough year for all of us.
The flow-on effects of restrictions and other COVID-19 measures have no doubt touched you and your loved ones this year. The demand for mental health support services has steadily increased throughout the year, with record numbers of people reaching out for help and to stay connected, including via the SANE Help Centre.
This demand is expected to remain for some time, making the work SANE Australia and StigmaWatch does to combat stigma and discrimination surrounding mental health issues more important than ever. We are confident that our work is making an impact and are hopeful that people who may have previously been hesitant to reach out for help, may do so now.
This edition, we celebrate the launches of both the National Stigma Report Card, that presents the findings from the Our Turn to Speak survey, and the new Life After Bushfires digital resource. We also chat with one of our SANE Peer Ambassadors, Jenni about her experience with stigma.
The SANE Australia StigmaWatch team wishes you all a safe, joyful holiday season and look forward to a less challenging 2021.
National Stigma Report Card
The National Stigma Report Card findings are in, and they show that people living with complex mental health issues experience high rates of stigma and discrimination in many important areas of their lives.
Almost 2,000 people shared their experiences as part of the study, led by SANE Australia’s Anne Deveson Research Centre in partnership with the Melbourne School of Psychological Sciences at the University of Melbourne, with the support of the Paul Ramsay Foundation.
The top five areas of life that survey participants said were most affected by stigma and discrimination in the previous 12 months were relationships, employment, healthcare, social media and mental healthcare.
This world-leading research was launched during Mental Health Week 2020, via a webinar emceed by Natasha Mitchell – multi-award winning ABC journalist, podcaster, documentary maker and the founding presenter and producer of All in the Mind.
The webinar featured the wisdom and insights of people with lived experience, details of the findings, and recommendations about how the research can be used to create meaningful change. You can watch a recording of the launch online.
The comprehensive research report, the report summary and the Recommendations for action are available on the website, alongside reflections from real people with real stories of stigma and discrimination. The website also features the online data explorer, an interactive tool where you can compare survey results from different life domains, mental health issues and demographics.
Thank you to everyone who took part in this vital study. SANE Australia is committed to honouring everyone’s participation by using the National Stigma Report Card to drive meaningful, systematic change that sees people affected by complex mental health issues being supported and included as equal members of our community.
The reality of stigma surrounding mental health issues – Q&A with Jenni
Jenni is a creative, positive person who believes that “the glass is always half full.” She enjoys sharing her mental health journey with professionals, carers, the general public and with others who have a lived experience of mental health issues.
Jenni is a SANE Australia Peer Ambassador. She has lived with a diagnosis of schizo-affective disorder for over 20 years. Schizo-affective disorder is a mental health condition marked by a combination of schizophrenia symptoms, such as hallucinations or delusions and mood disorder symptoms, such as depression or mania.
In this Q&A guest blog, Jenni shares some of her experiences about the everyday impact of stigma surrounding mental health issues and why she feels so strongly about changing attitudes and educating others about complex mental health issues.
Life After Bushfires: A new digital mental health resource from SANE
SANE Australia is proud to launch a new digital mental health resource, Life After Bushfires, designed to help people who have been impacted by bushfires focus on their mental health as part of their bushfire recovery.
SANE Australia CEO Jack Heath says in the immediate aftermath of traumatic events like the recent bushfires, primary needs such as housing and physical health are an immediate priority and mental health can often be overlooked.
“The mental health impacts of traumatic events like the bushfire crisis can be huge, and long lasting. For people with a history of trauma or a complex mental health issue, this is particularly important. These people can be incredibly resilient in times of crisis, and often step in to help others in need, but after the worst is over, the delayed impact on them can be significant,” said Mr Heath.
“Recovery is a process, a long process that is not linear. As people continue to repair and rebuild after the traumatic Black Summer bushfires, the time is right to invest in mental health and wellbeing, particularly for those living with a complex mental health diagnosis such as schizophrenia, anxiety and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).”
Life After Bushfires includes real stories from people affected by both complex mental health issues and the fires and provides information, tailored support services and connection through online peer-to-peer Forums.
Go to our Life After Bushfires page to find tips on trauma recovery, self-care, connecting with others and seeking help.
New guidelines for reporting on mental illness, violence and crime.
The way in which the media reports cases where severe mental illness is linked to violence can be incredibly stigmatising, and it is important that such stories are covered in a safe and responsible manner.
Mindframe has recently added to the suite of evidence-informed guides for media with the introduction of the Mindframe guidelines on media reporting of severe mental illness in the context of violence and crime. These guidelines aim to encourage best practice media standards in order to reduce stigma and encourage help-seeking.
The new guidelines form part of a PhD project, supported by graduate research scholarships from National Health and Medical Research Council (MHMRC) and Australian Rotary Health to Anna Ross (Centre for Mental Health, Melbourne School of Population and Global Health, University of Melbourne).
To view and learn more about the Mindframe guidelines on media reporting of severe mental illness in the context of violence and crime, please visit the Mindframe website.
SANE Australia end of year appeal
2020 has undoubtedly been a challenging year for all Australians, even more so for those affected by complex mental health issues.
In a time when uncertainty is rife, and our basic pleasures have taken a backseat to cope with the COVID-19 health crisis, the SANE Help Centre has seen demand for support increase by over fifty percent.
As we reflect on the dramatic changes to our lives this year, we hope that you will consider a donation in support of the Help Centre. All donations, no matter the size, make an enormous difference. Click the button below should you wish to contribute.
SANE Australia is a registered charity, making a real difference in the lives of the four million Australians affected by complex mental health issues through support, research and advocacy. All donations $2 and over are tax deductible
StigmaWatch on Twitter
Follow SANE Australia on Twitter where we use the hashtag #stigmawatch to share StigmaWatch news and information. We love hearing your thoughts on all matters to do with media coverage of mental ill-health and suicide.