Stamp Out Stigma
The aim of the stamp out stigma campaign is to eliminate stigma towards mental health sufferers in Hong Kong and to encourage the community to start talking openly about mental health. Stigma can be defined as negative feelings, assumptions, attitudes and stereotypes that people have towards sufferers of mental health. Mental health sufferers often feel judged and shame for having a mental illness. They face rejection, bullying and discrimination making the journey to recovery long and difficult. Due to stigma, the average delay between onset of symptoms and interventions is 8-10 years (NAMI)
People who suffer from mental illness are worried about being perceived negatively by their loved ones, friends, colleagues and the society at large. The aim of the stamp out stigma campaign is to eliminate stigma towards mental health sufferers in Hong Kong and to encourage the community to start talking openly about mental health. We want to put a stop at labels like 'crazy', 'unfit' or 'violent' that are assigned to mental health sufferers. This causes them to socially withdraw and affects their self-esteem, keeping them stuck in the cycle of mental illness. The impact of stigma can be so grave that it can cause sufferers to take their lives.
In Asia, mental illness is seen as taboo, a weakness, a choice, something to be ashamed of and to be concealed. There are many factors that contribute to mental illness such as genetics, biology, hormonal imbalance, environmental stressors and traumatic events . We don't want sufferers to be blamed for something they did not do or to suffer in silence. Our hope is to provide opportunities for the society to learn about mental health conditions to change their perceptions through mental health education and raising awareness. OCD & Anxiety Support Hong Kong conducts workshops and presentations on various issues related to mental health.
There is strong evidence to suggest that mental health sufferers are affected by stigma and are worried about discrimination in the workplace. Chung and Wong (2009) found that 64% of Chinese mental health patients felt that they must keep their disorder a secret to protect them from stigma and rejections and 52% of them leave out mental health information on application forms. Even though discrimination against mental illness is unlawful, 20% of all complaints at EOC have been mental health related. As a consequence, mental health sufferers are less likely to actively pursue jobs to be hired and to pursue opportunities.
To change this harmful status quo, OCD & Anxiety Support HK is asking everyone to take the stamp out stigma pledge, making a firm commitment to being stigma free. The perception of mental health will not change until we act to change it.