See Change responds to Irish Times article on approaches

See Change has responded to an article that appeared in the Irish Times (15th March, 2011) ‘See Change may not be the best use of money‘. See Change welcomes all engagement from stake holders and the general public – positive and critical – and encourages public debate on issues related to mental health stigma and discrimination. The See Change programme has issued the following response:

Madam – I agree with Dr. Dermot Walsh’s point (HEALTHplus, March 15th) that mental health professionals have a major role to play in destigmatising mental health problems. I must however, take issue with a number of his conclusions.

I disagree that a stigma reduction programme should focus only on the attitudes of professionals working in the sector. This approach ignores the stigma experienced by people who have not yet sought, or may not need to seek, a medical intervention.

The See Change programme is very cognisant that some initiatives to reduce mental health stigma in other countries have had limited success. That’s why See Change has developed a programme that is based on what has been proven to work at international level.

An independent evaluation of the See Me campaign in Scotland found positive shifts in attitudes towards people with mental health problems. Media reporting was also found to improve with a reduction in the use of stigmatising storylines. Similarly, Like Minds, Like Mine, a national, publicly funded programme aimed at reducing the stigma and discrimination associated with mental illness in New Zealand recorded significant changes in attitudes and behaviour towards people with mental health problems since it began 13 years ago.

A cost-benefit analysis of the Like Minds, Like Mine programme – based on the costs to the health care system and the benefit of increased employment – found that for every dollar spent on the programme, $13 of benefit was generated over a five year period.

See Change takes a multi-faceted, community led approach to stigma reduction and our messages are tailored to specific audiences, including mental health professionals. Our activities take place within the constraints of a very limited budget, and the programme is committed to transparent and public evaluation every two years.

– Yours, etc,

John Saunders

Director

See Change

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