About the Framework

The Tackling Stigma Framework was designed from the findings of a research study undertaken with children and their parents/carers, which examined their perceptions of the stigma associated with mental health problems (Gale, 2006).

The study aimed to understand the context and impact of stigma and to identify factors that could assist in the improvement of children and young people’s mental health services and the development of policies to minimise stigma.

To tackle stigma, the study defines a framework of actions that, when applied simultaneously, aims to minimise the stigma linked to children’s and young people’s mental health problems.

The Tackling Stigma Framework identifies eight practical priority domains for action when tackling stigma:

These domains can be applied in a range of settings and at a number of levels.

The Tackling Stigma Framework encourages the active participation of young people, incorporating work at family and professional level. It aims to challenge attitudes and beliefs about mental health in society, and presses for easier access to support and treatment.

In order to improve the understanding of and attitudes towards mental health, and the experience for children with mental health needs and their families, all of the eight domains should be implemented together, in order to have maximum impact (Gale, 2006).

About the study

Dr Warner-Gale explored children’s and their families’ perceptions of mental health, children’s mental health services and the associated stigma.

Interviews were undertaken with 20 children (aged 5 to 11) who had been referred to CAMHS for the first time. Dr Warner-Gale developed an interactive comic book with cartoon characters to help them talk about mental health and the stigma that they may have experienced. Interviews were also undertaken with their parents/carers (23 in total).

The study found that children and their parents/carers have sophisticated and complex perceptions of mental health and the stigma associated with mental health problems. It recognised that children were able to recognise feelings of stigma and discrimination in relation to mental health, and that they also had started to develop some negative beliefs about others who they felt had mental health problems.

It also found that there is much that can be done in partnership with children, their families and organisations to tackle stigma.

This may be achieved through education, information and communication about mental health and stigma, the development of non-stigmatising services and the mainstreaming of approaches to tackle stigma at local and policy levels to effect positive change.

The Tackling Stigma Framework has been piloted in six sites. Key learning from the pilots is available in Lessons from the Pilot Sites. More detailed information is available in the evaluation report.

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