Reducing mental health stigma in schools

Reducing the stigma surrounding mental health in schools is important to both the students in your classroom, but also, the wider school community.

This will help you to:

  • define stigma in relation to mental health
  • identify action points to address stigma in your school.

    What is stigma?

    Stigma refers to being marked or branded, but also refers to groups of people being categorised as different from the ‘norm’.

    Mental health stigma is connected to people’s cultural beliefs, knowledge of mental health and the amount of contact they have had and the type of contact they have had with people with mental health problems.

    How people experience mental health stigma does vary from person to person and is associated with negative connotations, leads people unable to admit having concerns over their own mental health, causes people to be secretive about their problems and discourages them to seek help.

    Schools play a vital role in addressing mental health based stigma as young people with mental health problems are more likely to experience higher levels of stigma than adults.

    How can schools take action?

    1. Community awareness campaigns: through school newsletters, community information nights, dissemination of information brochures and participating in community events such as Movember and R U OK? Day.
    2. Curriculum-based learning programs: that explicitly teach about mental health issues and develop students’ mental health literacy. Our Classroom resourcessection has a range of quality resources and lesson ideas to support the delivery of curriculum learning programs that address the destigmatisation of mental health issues.
    3. Developing a safe and supportive environment for those students, staff and community members whose lives are affected by a mental health difficulty.

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