Mental illness is affecting a large number of the global population. The structure of our capitalist society and the elimination of family support systems have led to a significant increase in psychosocial problems and miscellaneous mental illnesses and disorders in recent years.
The COVID-19 pandemic triggered further stress, fear, and insecurity for many people. Hence, an additional increase in mental challenges such as depression, anxiety and obsessive-compulsive disorder was recognised. This development results in our motivation to dedicate our time to work on this topic. Apart from the relevance for so many people in modern societies, what makes this topic so important for us, is the continuous (direct and indirect) denial of participation affected people are facing.
This kind of exclusion people with mental illness experience on a day-to-day basis, is often based on stigma. Not-affected people use common prejudices, i.e., negative attributes and assumptions about the behaviour, appearance, or lifestyle of people with mental difficulties. The opinion that “those people” are abnormal and do not fit into society still holds up very persistent in the heads of the majority of people.
Social and Personal Stigmatization have…
…a reciprocal effect on one another. On one hand, this means that socially recognized prejudices are accepted by those affected and transferred to themselves. In addition, the negative response from the majority usually leads to an aggravation of the symptoms of mental illness, which in turn leads to a manifestation of existing prejudices (through confirmation). It also increases the barrier to seeking professional help. A feeling of shame and self-devaluation prevents people of speaking about their problems and demanding legitimate legal help.
We want people with mental illnesses to be able to participate in society equally, not to have to hide, not to be excluded and stigmatized.
We want the major population to understand that mental illnesses are only partially inherited but are often acquired and can affect anyone.
We want all people to recognize that mental illnesses or emotional disability do not make a person less lovable, clever, funny, or charming, but that our prejudices prevent us to put positive attributions on those affected.
The Goal of our Project is draw attention...
…to the concerns of people with mental and illnesses and disabilities to ensure a stigma-free interaction between those who are not affected and the target group and prevent exclusion of affected groups and individuals.
Our project has a global focus with the main goal to reach a broad public and to exchange knowledge and experiences on an international level. We see ourselves as researchers and multipliers. We want to travel to different countries in order to transfer knowledge beyond borders and also to break through our own mental and intellectual limitations.
On our Tour we want to research...
… existing barriers in different environments (such as stigmata, legal problems, cultural beliefs) which prevent affected people from participating in society equally. Moreover, we are particularly interested in possible approaches to overcoming these barriers.
That is why we want to find organizations and projects which are working on reducing stigmatization towards people with mental illnesses. We would like to learn about their working methods and the specifications of their target group(s). We would like to get to know the work of these projects as intensively as possible and are therefore planning to volunteer in various projects for some time. However, the main part of the research will be guided interviews.
In addition, we are interested in how working with mentally ill people is anchored in the curricula of various universities and colleges for social work. Since we consider the transfer of knowledge to be an important prerequisite for successful socio-spatial projects, we would also like to talk/ hold lectures about working methods, legal systems, and academic approaches in Germany.