Ending Stigma and Achieving Parity in Mental Health: A Physician Perspective

“Physicians have a responsibility to become involved. There is growing evidence that interventions, at local and national levels, can reduce stigma and discrimination.”

The Canadian Medical Association, the Canadian Psychiatric Association, the Canadian Paediatric Society and the College of Family Physicians of Canada held a workshop in Toronto, September 23, 2010 to build a shared understanding among physicians about the sources of stigma in the health care system experienced by persons with a mental illness and to develop recommendations for action to end stigma and discrimination and achieve parity in health care.

A number of guest speakers made presentations about stigma and discrimination from various perspectives, and specific research findings pertaining to stigma and discrimination were also shared with the participants. Each presentation was followed by a question and answer sessions. The participants then joined break-out workshops to address the following issues:

– Physicians’ personal experience of stigma
– Physicians and their patients
– Physicians as a profession
– Physicians and the health care system

Each break-out group discussed the following questions within the context of the workshop topic:
1. What are the best policies and practices that should be promulgated?
2. What are the educational needs for physicians, addressing both knowledge and behaviour?
3. What can individual physicians and the medical profession do to affect/cause change?
When the break-out groups concluded their discussions, each group reported back to plenary and the workshop was then adjourned.
The following report represents a summary/synthesis of the seven presentations along with the identification of ten major themes emerging from the breakout groups. A full copy of the Workshop Proceedings is available upon request. Biographies of the Workshop Presenters are enclosed as Appendix “A”.

Stigma Workshop Report 2010