Another impactful event at CPNP 2018 was the StigmaFree Me! Discussion Den led by CPNP Foundation Board Member Carol Ott and CPNP Member Suzie Harris. This interactive session focused on the underpinnings of stigma with those in attendance offering tips on how to Be Aware and Be StigmaFree.
Tip #1: Be Cognizant of How we Learn Stigma
The reality is that we learn stigma from things and people surrounding us every day. Movies, news, our families, and our culture are just a few of the sources that impact each of us and our views of those living with mental illness and addiction. Tip #1 then is to live more consciously with awareness of all of the messaging around us.
Tip #2: Change Your Language to Change the World
How many times in any given week do we hear someone say "crazy," "wacko", "mental?" Tip #2 focuses on the stigmatizing language we use and encourages us all to train ourselves to use person-first language where we don't label by diagnostic criteria or a person's role in treatment. Being conscious and aware should be our mantra as we strive to think and say, "She is living with depression" rather than "She is suffering from depression."
Tip #3: Put Empathy into Action
Discussion facilitators shared statistics that showed that pharmacists, in general, are less comfortable talking to patients about their medications for mental illness compared with medications for cardiovascular diseases and feel very uncomfortable monitoring the medications for mental illness. With information and insight comes empathy and understanding. Increased mental health training in pharmacy schools, engaging in clinical experiences assisting individuals with mental illness, mindfulness, and partnering with NAMI (e.g., “Ending the Silence”, “Trauma for Care”) are all suggestions for better understanding the perspective and experience of those living with mental illness and addiction.