Stigma acts as a continuous source of shame and guilt for persons with mental illness and even their family members. There are over hundred stigmatic labels associated with mental illness. These labels which are passed from one person to another carry a feeling of rejection, abandonment & mockery. They demean, belittle and are of abusive nature. The stigma associated with mental illness is so deep rooted in the collective consciousness of the society that help is seldom available to the sufferer. Even if the sufferer has managed his disorder, there is insignificant acceptance. Due to stigma and social barriers, persons with mental illness are prevented from exercising their capacities and accessing socio economic resources at par with others, thus pushing them to poverty and depravation and making them the most vulnerable and marginalized section of the society.
De-stigmatization campaigns are conducted intermittently. Their reach is, however, limited and it hardly helps to change the mindset of people. The effect disappears once the campaign is over. Generally it is assumed that once the awareness is created stigma will vanish. But stigma may not necessarily reduce along with increase in awareness efforts. SAA’s Sti+ch Programme aims to reduce stigma associated with mental illness. It’s an acronym of Stigma Watch. The project aims to stitch the torn apart (sufferers & caregivers) with the mainstream so that there remains no discrimination on the grounds of mental illness. The project aims to create stigma awareness and implement de-stigmatization programs in Pune and some adjoining districts, and gradually spread it in Maharashtra by conducting Train the Trainer (TTT) programs.
The objective of the project is
- To help people understand that how do they contribute unconsciously in spreading stigma
- To help people understand that what steps can they take to reduce stigma
- Identifying operationalised stigma in daily life, shedding light on it, and insisting and pursuing corrective measures to stop the stigma from spreading further
- Supporting individuals and caregivers directly and indirectly affected by stigma and fostering their agency
Suitable short and long training sessions are proposed to be developed and conducted to sensitise mental health professionals, patients, caregivers and lay persons.