Reducing mental illness stigma and discrimination — everybody's business

Barbara Hocking
Med J Aust 2003; 178 (9): 47-48.


  • The stigma associated with schizophrenia is pervasive, both in the community and among healthcare workers, and forms a real barrier to optimal recovery from the illness.

  • The negative consequences of stigma include discrimination in housing, education and employment, and increased feelings of hopelessness in people with schizophrenia.

  • Health professionals have a responsibility to improve their own attitudes and behaviour towards people with schizophrenia so they do not contribute to the stigma.

  • Educational campaigns aimed at people in the community and media personnel could help to demystify mental illness and reduce the portrayal of offensive stereotypes of people with schizophrenia.

Please login with your free MJA account to view this article in full

  • Barbara Hocking

  • SANE Australia, South Melbourne, VIC.


Competing interests:

None identified.

  • 1. SANE Australia. What's your view? SANE phone-in 2000. Available at: (accessed Jan 2003).
  • 2. Byrne P. Psychiatric stigma. J R Soc Med 1997; 90: 618-621.
  • 3. World Psychiatric Association. The WPA global programme to reduce the stigma and discrimination because of schizophrenia — an interim report 2001. Geneva: World Psychiatric Association, 2001.
  • 4. Sartorius N. Iatrogenic stigma of mental illness. BMJ 2002; 324: 1470-1471.
  • 5. Coglan R, Lawrence D, Jablensky A. Duty to care: physical illness in people with mental illness. Perth: University of Western Australia, 2001.
  • 6. General Practice Mental Health Standards Collaboration. Aust Fam Physician 2002; 31(12): 1130.
  • 7. Jorm AF, Korten AE, Jacomb PA, et al. "Mental health literacy": a survey of the public's ability to recognise mental disorders and their beliefs about the effectiveness of treatment. Med J Aust 1997; 166: 182-186. <eMJA full text>
  • 8. The Compass Strategy. Newsletter No. 2, October 2001. Department of Psychiatry, University of Melbourne and MH SKY Youth Program.
  • 9. Francis C, Pirkis J, Dunt D. Mental health and illness in the media: a review of the literature, 2001. Media Monitoring Project. Canberra: Commonwealth of Australia, Mental Health and Special Programs Branch, 2002. Available at: (accessed Jan 2003).
  • 10. SANE guide to fighting stigma. Melbourne: SANE Australia, 2002. (ISBN 1 875182 83 7).
  • 11. Mindframe National Media Strategy. Commonwealth Department of Health and Ageing, 2002. Available at: (accessed Jan 2003).
  • 12. SANE StigmaWatch 2002. A report on stigma against mental illness in the Australian media. Available at: (accessed Jan 2003).
  • 13. Australian Health Ministers. National mental health policy. Canberra: AGPS, 1992. (ISBN 0644 24844 0).
  • 14. Jablensky A, McGrath J, Herrman H, et al. People living with psychotic illness: an Australian study 1997–98. Commonwealth Department of Health and Aged Care, 1999. Available at: (accessed Jan 2003).


remove_circle_outline Delete Author
add_circle_outline Add Author

Do you have any competing interests to declare? *

I/we agree to assign copyright to the Medical Journal of Australia and agree to the Conditions of publication *
I/we agree to the Terms of use of the Medical Journal of Australia *
Email me when people comment on this article

Responses are now closed for this article.