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It’s a disorder not a DecisioN

Updated: Mar 30


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The stigma around Mental Health & Counselling– "To Gather" the Overgate Dundee


How old is the Stigma?

The stigma around mental health and Counselling is certainly not a new development in society. The stigmatisation of mental health has a long history dating back around a millennium[1] with some dark chapters of history arising from it.[2]


Why is there a stigma?

The reasons for the stigma are complicated. There can be cultural factors which come into play. This tends to be in non-western societies where religious and supernatural explanations are used to explain and stigmatise the mentally ill[3]. Closer to home in the western world factors including gender and whether a person resides in an urban or rural environment have previously been shown to impact on a person’s attitude to mental health.[4] The findings revealed that in the past men are more likely than women to stigmatise those with a mental illness whilst those in urban areas are less likely to stigmatise than those in rural areas.[5]


Change is Here

Fortunately for everyone there has been a concerted effort particularly over the last few years to overcome this stigma. Campaigns led by several prominent figures have made significant inroads to eliminating the stigma[6]. The language used to describe those suffering from mental health conditions is being promoted in the media to avoid negative terms. This has been shown to be beneficial in reducing the stigma.[7]


We are now moving away from a world where people are prejudiced for a health condition they cannot control. It is no longer necessary to be ashamed about accessing Counselling services for support. Heartwork Services is pleased to be working with the new initiative “To Gather” being launched by the Overgate Shopping Centre in Dundee's city centre, where we will be offering a series of workshops dealing with issues like anxiety, depression, and couples counselling. We are still in the planning stages and would love to hear from anyone who might be interested. Just send a message through the website to let us know.


References [1] Rossler, W (2016). “The Stigma of Mental Disorders: A millennia‐long history of social exclusion and prejudice” Embo Reports, 2016 Sep; 17(9): 1250–1253, accessed on 16/11/2021 and available at https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5007563/ [2] The treatment of the mentally ill by Nazi Germany serves as one of the more recent and extreme examples. [3] Op Cit Rossler, W (2016). [4] Shcroeder, s Chih, T, Urlacher, B, Heitkamp, T (2020) “The Role of Rural and Urban Geography and Gender in Community Stigma Around Mental Illness”, Health Education and Behaviour, Volume 48, Issue 1 page(s): 63-73, accessed on 16/11/2021 and available at https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/1090198120974963 [5] Ibid [6] Prince Harry, Prince William and their respective spouses serve as useful examples. [7] Volkow, N.D., Gordon, J.A. & Koob, G.F. (2021) “Choosing appropriate language to reduce the stigma around mental illness and substance use disorders.” Neuropsychopharmacol. 46, 2230–2232, accessed on 16/11/2021 and available at https://www.nature.com/articles/s41386-021-01069-4



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