Mental health stigma is when people face negative attitudes from others due to their experiences of mental health problems. Mental health discrimination is when people are treated differently due to them having experience of a mental health problem, such as being excluded from employment. Stigma and discrimination can act as barriers to recovery from a mental health problem and can worsen mental health problems, for example by leading people to feel a loss of hope or a sense of control over their life choices. Stigma and discrimination can often make it difficult for a person with mental health problems to talk about their difficulties to other people for example employers, partners, friends or family leading to feelings of shame or worry about others finding out.
Whilst research suggests that attitudes are improving in relation to mental health problems such as depression or anxiety, this improvement has not been seen in relation to other mental health difficulties such as psychosis, as highlighted by the recent Time to Change campaign ‘See the Bigger Picture.’ As such, it is vital we better understand how to address mental health stigma and discrimination for all mental health conditions including for people with experience of psychosis.
Negative public beliefs about psychosis may make people who experience psychosis think or feel negatively about themselves. This is called internalised stigma. The ‘Let’s Talk’ project will involve an approach to helping people with internalised stigma.
The ‘Let’s Talk’ project is a study funded by the National Institute for Health Research NIHR that aims to give people an opportunity to discuss their worries about stigma and disclosure of their mental health concerns with a peer support worker. Peer support workers are people who have personal experience of psychosis and help others who have psychosis. Peer support workers can be paid or voluntary workers. We are interested in finding out what Service Users and NHS Staff including peer support workers and community and hospital clinicians at Greater Manchester Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust GMMH think about stigma, discrimination and disclosure of mental health problems.
This will be important in helping us understand how these issues are currently affecting GMMH service users, and what staff think of the topic. The information they provide will help us refine an intervention called ‘Let’s Talk’, that has been designed to help service users who experience internalised stigma and who have some concerns about talking about their mental health problems due to stigma. We also want to get staff and service user’s feedback on the ‘Let’s Talk’ intervention so we can refine it for use here in the UK and so it can be delivered one-to-one rather than in a group setting. Once we have refined the intervention, we will then conduct the second phase of our project, which is a small trial of the intervention, which will be delivered by peer-support workers.
Dr. Melissa Pyle is the Chief Investigator of Let’s Talk. Wendy Jones, Dr. Rory Byrne and Dr. Melissa Pyle will be conducting the interviews with service users and peer support workers.
The Let’s Talk study was developed from the Honest, Open, Proud programme in the USA led by Prof. Pat Corrigan, the National Consortium on Stigma and Empowerment and Dr. Jon Larson at the University of Illinois. Prof. Tony Morrison, Dr. Lisa Wood and Dr. Sarah Peters will help oversee the study and also help with the analysis of data. Steve Pilling who organises Headspace will also help oversee the study.
We are also working with Rajvi Kotecha-Hazzard at The McPin Foundation which aims to champion experts by experience in research.
If you would like more information or to discuss the study, please contact:
Dr Melissa Pyle (Chief Investigator): Melissa.email@example.com or 07767760767 (work mobile)
Wendy Jones (Qualitative Researcher): firstname.lastname@example.org 0161 358 1395 or 07990345320
Dr. Rory Byrne (Qualitative Researcher): email@example.com 0161 358 1395 or 07767756056
This study is funded by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) (Project Reference NIHR200460). The views expressed are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of the NIHR or the Department of Health and Social Care.