Recommendations for ending discrimination


Book cover, courtesy NAP

The U.S. National Academy Press published a book 20 April 2016 entitled Ending Discrimination Against People with Mental and Substance Use Disorders: The Evidence for Stigma Change that assembles and summarizes recommendations about how to reduce negative attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors directed toward individuals who have mental health or substance abuse disorders. Although the bulk of the document addresses stigma in a general way and primarily with reference to research on adults, one section focuses specifically on stigma against children and youths, calling it “a serious concern because of its short-term impacts, including decreased feelings of self-worth and willingness to enter treatment, and because of the deleterious long-term effects of untreated mental illness or substance use disorders” (p. 2-13).

The six recommendations (see list that follows) reflect policy-level planning that one would expect from such work. Don’t look for practices to implement in a clinic or classroom. However, we can hope that some of the policies will influence practices.

Learn more about this potentially valuable resource. Interested readers can order a copy of the book from the National Academies Press Web site or download a PDF pre-publication version of it.

The recommendations:

  1. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services should take lead responsibility among federal partners and key stakeholders in the design, implementation, and evaluation of a multipronged, evidence-based national strategy to reduce stigma and to support people with mental and substance use disorders.
  2. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services should evaluate its own service programs and collaborate with other stakeholders, particularly the criminal justice system and government and state agencies, for the purpose of identifying and eliminating policies, practices, and procedures that directly or indirectly discriminate against people with mental and substance use disorders.
  3. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration should conduct formative and evaluative research as part of a strategically planned effort to reduce stigma.
  4. To design stigma-reduction messaging and communication programs, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration should investigate and use evidence from formative and evaluative research on effective communication across multiple platforms.
  5. To decrease public and self-stigma and promote affirming and inclusive attitudes and behaviors targeted to specific groups, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration should work with federal partners to design, evaluate, and disseminate effective, evidence-based contact-based programming.
  6. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration should work with partners to design, support, and assess the effectiveness of evidence-based peer programs to support people with mental and substance use disorders along the path to recovery and to encourage their participation in treatment.

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