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Shatter the Stigma

Shatter the Stigma

During Mental Health Week (October 10-18, 2020), Wide Bay Hospital and Health Service is launching an ongoing campaign aimed at reducing stigma connected to mental illness and empowering more people to seek support for mental health issues.

The campaign is called Shatter the Stigma.

Shatter the Stigma raises awareness of the negative impact that stigma relating to mental illness has on individuals, their families and their recovery. It also recognises that, by feeling stigmatised or ashamed, people may be less inclined to seek support or access services when they’re experiencing challenges.

Take the pledge

Through powerful words and actions, we can build a movement for change. Movements are made up of many single acts by individual people – that means us. That means you.

You can take the pledge by filling out our online form, and committing to change that you can sustain, big or small.

We can all begin with a commitment. What will you do to help shatter mental health stigma?


Why the campaign?

Despite progress that has been made over the past decade, stigma associated with mental health still exists in our community. The way we talk about mental illness and the things we express publicly through media, social media, in our homes and in our workplaces can really make a difference.

The more we can reduce the stigma associated with mental illness, the easier it becomes for people to start talking about their mental health challenges and to get the help that they may need.

We know this is important, because the statistics tell us that 1 in 5 Queensland adults experience a mental disorder each year, and about 50% of all Queensland adults will experience a mental disorder at some time in their lives.

Everyone has the right to feel comfortable identifying, discussing and seeking support for their mental health challenges. As long as mental health stigma remains, too many people will choose not to seek help and support, with potentially dire consequences for them and their loves ones.

By committing to Shatter the Stigma, WBHHS is embarking on a sustainable movement to raise awareness, change culture, support and embed positive workplace and public perception to shatter the stigma relating to mental health. We invite you to join us.

How else can you help?

Consider the language you use

The everyday language we use often normalises discrimination and stigma without us even realising. Here are some examples of words and expressions we should avoid, and ways of expressing them better.

Do say
Don't say
A person is ‘living with’ or ‘has a diagnosis of’ mental illness ‘mental patient’, ‘nutter’, ‘lunatic’, ‘psycho’, ‘schizo’, ‘deranged’, ‘mad’ Certain language sensationalises mental illness and reinforces stigma.
A person is ‘being treated for’ or ‘someone with’ a mental illness ‘victim’, ‘suffering from’, or ‘affected with’ a mental illness Terminology that suggests a lack of quality of life for people with mental illness.
A person has a ‘diagnosis of’ or ‘is being treated for’ schizophrenia A person is ‘a schizophrenic’, ‘an anorexic’ Labelling a person by their mental illness.
The person’s behaviour was unusual or erratic ‘crazed’, ‘deranged’, ‘mad’, ‘psychotic’ Descriptions of behaviour that imply existence of mental illness or are inaccurate.
Antidepressants, psychiatrists or psychologists, mental health hospital ‘happy pills’, ‘shrinks’, ‘mental institution’ Colloquialisms about treatment can undermine people’s willingness to seek help.
Reword any sentence that uses psychiatric or media terminology incorrectly or out of context ‘psychotic dog’, using ‘schizophrenic’ to denote duality such as ‘schizophrenic economy’ Terminology used out of context adds to misunderstanding and trivialises mental illness.

Learn and educate

The movement to shatter mental health stigma gains momentum by listening, sharing experiences, providing information and raising awareness with friends, family and your community.

Simple examples of this can include:

  • Listening openly to people when they want to discuss their mental illness or challenges – let them know it’s OK to speak up
  • Sharing your own experiences of mental health challenges, to help others realise they’re not on their own
  • Call out stigma and discrimination when you hear it, and help people to understand what they could do differently
  • Encouraging your friends and family to seek help if it’s needed
  • Spreading the word about the Shatter the Stigma initiative
  • Completing a Mental Health First Aid course to learn how to respond to loved ones in crisis, and make others aware this option is available.

Wide Bay Hospital and Health service is also committed to sharing stories of consumers and staff who have experienced stigma to highlight the injustices of stigma and reinforce the need for change. Keep watching this page as we develop it further with these important stories.


Wide Bay Hospital and Health Service