Scattergood Foundation

Advancing Innovative Strategies for Change in Behavioral Health

Grant Activity: Current Activity Impacting Communities

Scattergood Stigma Services

Click HERE to go to our Stigma Reduction page.

What is the Scattergood Foundation doing to reduce stigma, and why have we chosen this particular path? In the past we have defined stigma, we have differentiated public stigma from self-stigma, we have explained why it matters, we have highlighted instances of discrimination in the community, and we have described some of the proven methods to reduce stigma. But, we haven’t fully detailed what it is that we are doing about it, exactly. Well, in this blog post that is long overdue, we will tell you what we are doing and why these are the proper avenues to pursue if diminished stigma is the destination.

We offer three specific stigma-related services to organizations at no cost. They are:

  1. Consultation services for developing or improving evidence-based stigma-reduction interventions.
  2. Evaluation services that incorporate valid and reliable instruments and use statistical analysis to measure the impact of stigma-reduction interventions.
  3. Stigma workshops that educate participants about the precise definition of stigma, its effects, its prevalence, and proven methods to reduce stigma.

Let’s run through the list and explain why we offer each of these services.

Stigma reduction consultation services: As far back as the Surgeon General’s Report on Mental Health in 1999, stigma reduction was identified as a major need in order to increase the abysmally low rate of mental health service utilization and to improve the lives of those with lived experience. However, despite this focus, and millions upon millions of dollars spent on anti-stigma campaigns, no meaningful improvements have occurred in terms of public stigma. Is this because there simply aren’t any effective strategies to reduce public stigma? No. There is considerable research documenting the methods that do in fact successfully reduce public stigma.

Unfortunately, many organizations and agencies implement methods that are unproven or, even worse, are definitively disproven. For instance, it is still common to see strategies that heavily incorporate the brain disorder or “disease like any other” model. This strategy works under the assumption that if people understand mental illness as a no-fault neurobiological condition, a disease like any other, prejudice towards those with these conditions will subside. The jury has finished deliberating and the verdict is in: this approach does not reduce stigma.

Some organizations do use proven methods, namely contact strategies, but do not implement them properly. Using proven methods is a step in the right direction, but if they are not done correctly, they can be ineffective or even counterproductive. For example, take this analogy:

Nuclear fission is a proven method by which a sustained release of energy can be created to power a city. However, nuclear fission can also create an instantaneous release of energy that could vaporize a city.

Our project tells you what the proven methods are to reduce stigma, and how to implement them so that they will produce the desired effect(s).

Stigma reduction evaluation services: Using a proven method is the most important part in reducing stigma, but how will you know if it’s working unless you measure outcomes? You won’t. You might be reducing stigma, but maybe your strategy isn’t working and you need to examine why. You can’t do this unless you are collecting data and measuring change, or lack thereof. And, use verified instruments to do this. You might be tempted to create your own metrics, but unless you are a researcher or have a very strong statistical background, it is best to utilize tools that have demonstrated reliability and validity. We also provide concise, easy-to-understand analysis summaries for the organizations that use our evaluation services (click here for an example of one of these summaries).

Stigma workshops: Using evidence-based practices and measuring outcomes is the ideal, but you also have to know what it is that you are trying to reduce, what it causes, how common it is, and what the best methods are to achieve the desired outcomes. Our stigma workshops address all of these questions and point you in the right direction. We only offer these workshops in the Philadelphia area, but we also have a stigma guide that can provide you with an overview of the information. Download the Scattergood Stigma Guide by clicking here.

To obtain any of these services, or for more information, contact the Scattergood Fellow on Stigma Reduction, Tim Clement, at tclement@scattergoodfoundation.org.