How We Work
Cycling for Society is a project which aims to fight Stigma against people with mental illnesses and to raise awareness for the effects Stigma has on affected people but also educate about mental health and mental illness in general. The goal of our activities is to increase participation of people with mental illnesses as well as increasing the quality of care and recovery within professional setting (e.g. mental health centres, psychiatric clinics, therapeutical and psycho-social counselling offices, case work etc.)
Now that reads like a big task and actually it is. So obviously we had to decide about work methods which are helping us to achieve our goal.
Our project consists of two main work sectors: Research and Activism
Research and Activism
In order to be able to fight Stigma, we first have to elaborate existing Stigmata in different societies (countries) and what causes those Stigmata. Those vary from country to country based on traditions, belief systems, society values, socio-economic status, education level and many more. Moreover, it is necessary to find out what conclusions people draw from those “images” about a certain group and what negative impact Stigmata have on the lives of affected people.
As finding the root of the problem is essential for successful Anti-Stigma work, our focus no.1 lies on research. For that we talk to affected people and their families, to professionals from different disciplines (social workers, psychologists, nurses etc.) and academic staff from universities. From those resources we also learn about successful strategies they are using to increase participation and the life quality of our target group. We use different research techniques such as guided interview, observation, dialogues, counselling, interaction during workshops etc.
Our focus no. 2 lies in activism which aims to increase empathy and solidarity amongst the majority of the people as well as policy makers. This can be achieved by increasing knowledge about stigmatisation and its effects amongst professionals of different disciplines but also by providing factual information about mental illness as well as the effects of stigma and stigmatisation to policy makers as well as employers. Our activism work also includes empowering affected people as well as their families. Our main work methods hereby are:
counselling (mainly affected people and family members)
consultation (mainly employers as well as professionals)
workshops and lectures (mainly at universities for students of care giving disciplines)
media publications (social media, giving interviews to newspapers, podcasts, TV-channels)
including affected people in our project (e.g. by giving “them” the chance to speak for themselves on our platforms)
Last but not least riding our bicycles is one working method in order to raise awareness and get in touch with people. Statistically every 5th person worldwide is effected by a mental disorder (WHO statistic) which lead us to the conclusion, that everyone we meet, will have a friend or family member which is affected. Travelling slowly and creating curiosity wherever we go lead to so many fruitful interactions with people with mental health problems and their family members. It gave us the opportunity to speak to people privately, to learn about their life, they struggles, their dreams and their sorrows but also talking to them about stigma, societies views on health and illness and their legitimate rights. This method was and is the most useful to empower individuals.
Our work requires a lot of determination and especially after a hard day of riding (or many weeks of riding without a break) it can be hard to speak to people, focus in an interview or giving a 3h workshop. But we remind each other every day why we went out there and that we actually have a voice people listen to – unlike most of the people we are considering our target group.