Let's not kid ourselves. Stigma is caused by psychiatric labels given to vulnerable people in mental distress. The fact that society then reinforces this stigma by alluding to the labels, of schizophrenia and other mental disorders, doesn't mean that the person in the street is to blame.
Therefore anti-stigma campaigns should first of all be directed at psychiatry. Targeting society doesn't make sense to my mind for they are only playing at 'follow my leader'. As long as we can be judged mentally ill on the basis of a collection of symptoms, labelled as a disorder, then there will continue to be stigmatising newspaper headlines and segregation of people with mental illness.
In Scotland the anti-stigma campaign See Me gets around £1million from government funds to challenge stigma and discrimination. Their vision "A Scotland where people with experience of mental ill-health, and those who support them, are fully equal and included.". Their work to "Change public attitudes and behaviour towards people with mental health problems, Involve people with direct experience of stigma, Work with the media and to Work locally with partners".
These are admirable aspirations and work goals but I still maintain that the stigma of mental ill health begins and ends with psychiatry. For the people who are forced to enter the psychiatric system to the people who get anti-depressants and benzos from the GP gatekeepers. The fear of a psychiatric diagnosis or label is ever present because they are indelibly written in psychiatric notes.
Although I did recently get my schizoaffective disorder label marked as being in perpetuity. I'd have preferred it to be completely erased and this is my long-term goal. Because I don't believe in diagnoses which are psychiatric constructs, given by professionals who didn't know me as a person and didn't understand my state of mind at the time.
Ignorance is no excuse and I've said it before. The stigma from psychiatric labels in my family's notes have carried down through the generations, justifying forced treatment and slandering of reputations. Requiring resilience, strength and resistance on my part, to recover from the trauma of psychiatric treatment. And to help family members do the same. You might describe is as being a resistance fighter.
I'm not prepared to put up with stigma and the inevitable fallout from being 'different'. And that includes stigma within the mental health world and in the psychiatric system, from refusing to believe the prevailing regime or collective position. To be equal doesn't mean to conform. Here's to those of us who are non-conformist and who challenge stigma at its very roots. Slainte!