In December, we discussed several stigma change processes, including protest, education, and contact. Of these, contact with those with lived mental health experience is the most effective. Hearing about the mental health challenges and the recovery efforts of others is the best way to decrease stigma and offer realistic hope to those facing similar challenges. To read more about this, click here. Changing minds isn’t easy and certain approaches are more impactful than others in reversing harmful and hurtful beliefs. WISE uses the TLC4 model to aid us in reaching various populations and producing tangible change. TLC4 stands for the following:
- Targeted – Where do people experience stigma in your community? Public stigma is often experienced in multiple settings. Stigma change efforts should be targeted to particular groups of people or settings where people have encountered stigma. Stigma change strategies can then be tailored to the particular group or setting being targeted. (e.g. health providers, school staff, faith groups, civic groups, etc.)
- Local – Stigma reduction works best if designed to meet the unique characteristics of a local area. What works in Madison may not work best in Rhinelander. Tailoring discussions and providing specific tools to meet local needs serves these areas most effectively.
- Credible – Contact with a peer, or someone who is similar to us in some way, establishes rapport and allows us to see each other’s perspectives more clearly. If we view each other as more alike than different, we can listen and converse while feeling understood and open to the ideas of others. (e.g. parent to parent, nurse to nurse, teen to teen)
- Continuous – While one conversation with someone who is facing or has faced mental health challenges may make a difference to an individual, it’s not usually enough to make a lasting difference. Reversing stigma is a cultural shift and will take dedication over time by those who are committed to it. It’s also important to note that variety is needed in order to establish a wide and progressive base for change.
- Change-focused – Determine what you want the targeted group to do differently as a result of your efforts. How will you know that you have made an impact?
- Contact – If we’ve said it once, we’ll say it again. Contact with those with lived mental health experience is the single best way to reverse self and public stigma and increases inclusion and supportive behavior by and for all.
With that said, if you’re feeling inspired and want to do your part to reverse stigma, here is a list of what you can do right now to make a difference:
- Seek out those with lived mental health experience. Listen to their story, and support their recovery and resilience. Not sure how to do that? The Seven Promises that go with the Safe Person Decal give a good outline of how to be an effective listener and to offer support. If you feel comfortable, vow to be a safe person for others by displaying the Safe Person Decal. Download or order the Safe Person Decal here.
- Wear lime green, the color of mental health awareness. Be prepared to speak up about what it means and why you’re wearing it. In an effort to create curiosity and start conversations with others, WISE offers free, lime green bandanas, which can be ordered here.
- If applicable, consider sharing the story of your own mental health challenges and recovery. If you’re unsure about whether or not you’re ready to disclose your personal experiences, tap into WISE’s resources and go through the HOP training or download the HOP workbook here. HOP, which stands for Honest, Open, Proud, is a program to assist in making strategic disclosure decisions. More information on HOP will be posted on WISE Words soon, so check back again, or, if you can’t wait to get started, read more about HOP here.
- If you have permission, share the stories of others. Click here to watch short video stories created by one of WISE’s partners, Community Learning and Engagement. These are excellent resources to watch and share with others.
- Bring the conversation to your various communities – work, civic, faith, and schools. WISE has several offerings, including the WISE Basics presentation and discussion, HOP training, and consulting with organizations as they design, implement, and evaluate TLC4, that can assist these communities in reducing stigma. To request a training or find out more, please email WISE@wisewisconsin.org.
Employing the tips provided and following the TLC4 Model will give you a better idea of how to end stigma effectively. In our next few posts, we’ll be discussing HOP in more detail. In the meantime, feel free to sign up for the WISE newsletter, attend a WISE meeting to get more involved, or visit our website at https://eliminatestigma.org/.
Lucy, and the WISE team