Challenging Stigma

To challenge stigma and discrimination, and to encourage the creation of a cultural environment which allows people to express their feelings and ask for help, we believe it is essential that people learn about mental illness directly from those who suffer from it: as long as people with a mental illness are excluded, ignorance, fear and mistrust will remain widespread.

The HUG Communications Project was established in 1998 as a result of HUG members clearly identifying the need for active work to challenge stigma and raise awareness and understanding of mental health issues with professionals and the general public.

The Communications Project challenges stigma in four main ways, through:


Challenging Perceptions

We deliver mental health awareness training to professionals, ranging from GPs and psychiatrists to police officers and voluntary sector workers.

Educating Young People

There is increasing concern over young people's mental wellbeing. HUG is working with professionals in education, youth and health to develop a mental health education programme for young people.

This work focuses on youth groups and schools and promotes a positive approach and encourages open and safe discussion of mental illness. We use interactive drama and workshops to explore issues such as depression and self harm in young people.

Representing Users

HUG's media work aims to encourage realistic, accurate and responsible reporting of mental health issues.

Through the relationships we have built with people in the media, we have secured good coverage and positive features in the press, radio and TV both locally and nationally.

We run a training course on practical media skills to encourage more HUG members to speak out about their experiences.

Informing the Public

HUG challenges negative and stereotypical images of mental illness through publicity and promotional projects which bring mental health more positively into the public arena.

We produce regular newsletters and a poetry and prose magazine called Moonstruck. We have published 100,000 postcards and we are developing our own web site.

By reducing stigma HUG hopes that:

  • People directly affected by mental illness will have better lives and suffer less.
  • The public will gain a better understanding towards those who suffer from mental illness and will act with greater sensitivity and empathy.
  • Professionals attitudinal barriers will be broken down and good practice in the treatment and care of users.
  • By taking a preventative approach and encouraging open discussions about mental illness young people will feel more able to discuss emotional and mental health needs and be less discriminatory towards those who experience mental illness.



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