Gateshead Anti Stigma Partnership

It would be fair to say that some people “gasp” in horror when they experience or witness mental health discrimination. Unfortunately many people who experience poor mental health also have to cope with stigma and discrimination, at a time when they would benefit more from support and reassurance. I wanted to know the definition of these words to try and make sense of it all.

Discrimination – unfair treatment of a person or group on the basis of prejudice

Stigma – a mark of disgrace or shame

How can it be, that the word SHAME can be connected with mental health? It seems that for whatever reason, people are being treated unfairly and in turn this can discourage people from talking openly about their own mental health.

GASP (Gateshead Anti Stigma Partnership) aims to encourage people to talk about mental health and the discrimination that surrounds it. Following the example from “Time to Change” who promote time to talk and encourage “speaking out”, Gateshead Mental Health User Voice, Gateshead Moving Forward Clubhouse and Tyneside Mind came up with the idea of embarking on a local project. After contacting other organisations they quickly discovered that others were also interested in tackling mental health discrimination.

Crossroads Care, Tyneside Women’s Health, Time to Change, Gateshead Health Trainers, Launchpad, Body of Mind and North Tyneside Mental Health Forum have all been involved in the partnership planning meetings and Gateshead Public Health have given valuable support.

At present workers and service users are working hard on a short film which hopes to capture the views and experiences of mental health service users regarding stigma and discrimination and aims to challenge the views of the wider community. It is hoped the film will be shown and used to raise awareness and reduce the stigma surrounding mental health.

Further events will be arranged in the coming months which will aim to bring people together for “Tea and Talk”. Asking for people’s honest views and experiences to hopefully understand why people act in a discriminatory way, in turn we can highlight the impact discrimination can have on people.

GASP will be promoted at both the Newcastle and Gateshead World Mental Health Day events in October.

Watch this space! More information is available from Gateshead Mental Health User Voice.