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Let's talk

Queen’s professor Heather Stuart has helped develop five ways to fight the stigma surrounding mental illness as part of this year’s Bell Let’s Talk Day campaign.

Heather Stuart has helped develop five ways to fight mental health stigma.

These five ways to communicate about mental illness and show how the community can help those who struggle overcome their concerns about seeking help:

  • Language matters – pay attention to the words you use about mental illness.
  • Educate yourself – learn, know and talk more, understand the signs.
  • Be kind – small acts of kindness speak a lot.
  • Listen and ask – sometimes it’s best to just listen.
  • Talk about it – start a dialogue, break the silence

“If you were diagnosed with a serious physical illness, you’d expect and almost certainly get emotional and social support from people around you – not the silence, gossip, jokes or discrimination often faced by people with a mental illness,” says Dr. Stuart (Community Health and Epidemiology), Bell Canada Mental Health and Anti-stigma Research Chair. “That stigma is the reality for many Canadians who struggle, but we can all help provide necessary support to family, friends and colleagues by keeping a few straightforward approaches in mind.”

As the current chair holder Dr. Stuart works to increase awareness and understanding of stigma, develops and disseminates best practices in stigma reduction, and engages in applied research collaborations with world leaders in mental health.

Researchers at Queen's are at the forefront of developing best practices in the field of anti-stigma, including the unique approaches undertaken through the Opening Minds Program of the Mental Health Commission of Canada and a leadership role in the World Psychiatric Association's Global Anti-Stigma Program.

“We thank Dr. Stuart for her important work in anti-stigma research and for her guidance in developing approaches we can all employ to help break down the stigma,” says Mary Deacon, Chair, Bell Let’s Talk. “It’s an effort supported by leaders like Clara Hughes who speak openly about their own experiences, sharing stories with others who’ve struggled and taking the message of hope to everyone.”

Bell Let’s Talk Day is January 28. To learn more about the Bell Let’s Talk campaign, visit the website.

Established in 2012 with a $1 million grant from Bell Let’s Talk to the Queen's Initiative Campaign, the Bell Mental Health and Anti-Stigma Research Chair at Queen’s University is the first research chair in the world dedicated to the fight against the stigma around mental illness.