Mind the Mind – to Combat the Stigma of Mental Disorders


The Mind the Mind – to Combat the Stigma of Mental Disorders” campaign aims to educate secondary-level students (aged 15 to 18), together with the general public, about mental health and mental disorders, while decreasing negative beliefs and the stigma towards individuals affected by mental disorders.  The stigma of mental disorders is a widespread phenomenon in Europe, which causes a lot of harm to the well-being of individuals and society collectively.

On the basis of their psychological background, together with the research that was conducted, the Social Impact Initiative team created a kit on the topic of mental disorders; with detailed instructions on how to organise and deliver a workshop. The workshop has been reviewed by experts in the field of stigma and is tailored specifically for secondary-level students.  The purpose of this workshop is to help students understand complex topics such as mental health and mental health issues through the use of videos, role-plays, games and discussions.

The campaign is organised in a structured manner, involving a number of channels. ‘Local Coordinators’ within different European countries are responsible for organising the campaign locally, while being in contact with their mentor from the Social Impact Initiative Team, who provides assistance. The Local Coordinators’ tasks include: promoting the campaign in their respective country, recruiting volunteers, translating workshop material, contacting schools to schedule workshops, as well as organising training for volunteers. A ‘trainer’ is responsible for preparing the volunteers to deliver the workshop properly. During the training, volunteers review the workshop material, practise it, enhance presentation and communication skills, discuss potential problems and assess how the workshop will unfold with a specific group, such as secondary-level students. The volunteers are then equipped to be the ones delivering the workshop to the students.

The workshop starts with an introduction about the phenomenon of mental disorders and encourages students to discuss their perceptions about it. Afterwards, a discussion about mental disorders is held and examples and basic facts about mental disorders are provided. The workshop also presents causes of mental disorders and explains the multi-factorial model of mental disorder development, therefore, challenging the common misconception that the individual is to be blamed for their mental health problems. To illustrate some daily experiences of people affected by mental disorders and the irrational fears of society towards these people, videos of individuals who experience mental disorders are shown. These videos are then used as prompts to encourage discussions regarding what kind of role the social environment has in regards to how a person manages mental disorders. Finally, some guidelines on how to approach individuals struggling with a mental disorder, and information about where one can seek help are provided.

The “Mind the Mind – to Combat the Stigma of Mental Disorders” campaign was launched for the first time in October 2014. In total, 19 European countries participated in the first wave of the campaign, out of which 13 finished the campaign. The first wave ended in June 2015, with about 250 workshops having been delivered throughout Europe, thus, it was deemed a big success.

The Social Impact Initiative team analysed the feedback given by the Local Coordinators and the volunteers that were involved in the first wave, in order to improve the workshop material and make the second wave of the campaign an even bigger success, therefore, some changes were introduced in the second wave. The final report of the first wave can be found here.

Firstly, new videos and interactive games, such as the role-play games, were incorporated into the workshop package prepared for this year’s volunteers in order to help us raise awareness and educate the secondary-level students about the stigma associated with mental disorders. Taking into consideration the interests of students according to their age, the games are divided into two groups: those meant for older students (17 to 18 years old) and those meant for younger ones (15 to 16 years old).

Secondly, the team included more materials and handouts displaying myths and facts about different mental disorders, which the volunteers can share with the students.

Lastly, since a lot of reports from Local Coordinators mentioned difficulties in scheduling workshops that lasted 90 minutes, the team created a shorter version of the workshop that lasts 45 minutes, in order to make it easier for the schools to fit it into their schedules. The entire set of the new workshop material was once again reviewed and approved by the appointed experts.

The second wave of the campaign started in August 2015, and in total, 23 European countries participated.

After a great interest from the countries, during the 2015/16 mandate, the team decided to adapt the materials for primary school students (11 to 14 years old) and adults (18+ years old). The latter one can also be divided into two groups, based on their previous knowledge of psychology and mental disorders: non-psychology students and psychology and related professions students.

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