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Lesson 8 | Lesson Plan

Reducing the Stigma of Mental Illness

"Teachers: Nikki neuron reminds you to check the standards tables in the front of the toolkit to see which ones apply for this lesson and your subject area."

Student Objectives

■ Describe the stigma toward mental illness that exists in society.

■ Identify origins of stigma toward mental illness by analyzing past and current views of mental illness.

■ List at least three ways in which stigma toward mental illness manifests in society.
■ Describe how stigma is wrong and harmful.

■ Identify how stigma can be influenced by one’s race, ethnic heritage, social and/or cultural upbringing.

■ Identify three ways stigma results in significant costs to individuals and society.

■ Compare the reality to societal myths regarding mental illness and violence.

■ Describe alternative ways of viewing mental illness.

■ Identify strategies for combating stigma

Suggestions for Presentation of Material

Ask the class:

■ How would you expect a mentally ill person to differ from someone who is not?

■ What images and expectations do you have about someone with a mental illness? What do they look like and how do they act?

■ What causes mental illness?

■ How would people react if you told them of your or a family member’s mental illness?

■ What are some examples they can recall of how mentally ill are portrayed in the media (news, TV, movies, etc)? How realistic do they think these portrayals might be?

Key Points of Discussion

■ What stigma is and ways it is manifested toward the mentally ill

■ Historical views of mentally ill persons (as witches, possessed by demon spirits, dangerous, weak, morally defective) and how that led to the stigma in today’s society towards the mentally ill

■ Extreme, inhumane, unscientific methods of “treating” mental illness in earlier times

■ People of different racial and ethnic backgrounds are likely to have different experiences with stigma based on the impact of perceived racial or ethnic discrimination as well as social and cultural factors

■ Media’s characterizations of mental illness and the impact on societal attitudes

■ Reasons why mentally ill persons often don’t seek treatment; stigma as a barrier to treatment

■ Public misperception of the rate of violence among the mentally ill compared to normal population

■ Common fear of violence perpetrated by the mentally ill and its role in stigma

■ Negative effects of stigma on the life of a mentally ill individual

■ Approaches being tried to reduce the societal stigma against the mentally ill

■ Disability and access issues affecting the mentally ill that persist despite laws passed in the past 25 years (e.g., Individuals with Disabilities Education Act [IDEA]; Americans with Disabilities Act [ADA]; Mental Health Parity Legislation) to create rights and protections for persons with mental illness (e.g., mental illness as a disabling condition in only some cases; discrimination in job hiring and firing for problems related to mental illness)

■ The empowerment of persons with mental illness and their family members by consumer and advocacy groups for mental illness that have increased in visibility and political power in the past two decades (e.g. National Association for the Mentally Ill, Federation of Families, Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law)

Body humors