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Introduction

People experiencing mental ill-health often experience stigma and discrimination.  Discrimination interferes with relationships and connections to family, friends, workplaces, community and culture, and negatively impacts on the recovery process for people experiencing poor mental health.

A key element of reducing institutional and individual discrimination is to strengthen community understanding.  Strengthening community understanding helps people to identify and better understand the early signs of mental distress.  The understanding and ensuing conduct of health professionals is particularly important as the lived experience of people with mental illness is directly affected by the skill, attitudes and behaviours of the professionals with whom they interact.

Short-term initiatives aimed at improving community understanding and mental health literacy are part of the solution; however, increased understanding is not always associated with a reduction in discriminatory behaviour and stigmatising attitudes.  Evidence suggests that broad, longer term, anti-discrimination and anti-stigma initiatives have more success in reducing the experience of discrimination by people living with poor mental health.

In October, Relationships Australia’s online survey sought further understanding of mental health stigma by posing a few questions to visitors to our website.

Relationships Australia State and Territory websites